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The saga of CBFC: Censor Board chairpersons who stood out over the years

With lyricist-adman Prasoon Joshi taking over as the new chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the much-criticised Pahlaj Nihalani being removed, here’s taking a look at Censor Board chiefs who made an impact during their tenure.

bollywood Updated: Aug 14, 2017 18:11 IST
Ranjan Dasgupta
Ranjan Dasgupta
Hindustan Times
Censor,Censor Board,Bollywood
Lyricist Prasoon Joshi is the newly-appointed CBFC Chief.(Yogen Shah)

The saga of Indian Central Board of Film Certification is 65-year-old. And, during this time, there have been countless interesting incidents. Earlier dominated by bureaucrats, it was in 1981 that CBFC got its first chairman from the film fraternity - Hrishikesh Mukherjee. This was followed by Shakti Samanta, Asha Parekh, Vijay Anand, Sharmila Tagore, Leela Samson, Pahlaj Nihalani and the most recent being Prasoon Joshi. Here are some noted CBFC chiefs who in their own way made a difference in the world of censorship of Indian films.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee

A highly successful director, editor, Hrishikesh Mukherjee was highly respected as a censor chairman. Virtually none of his directed films ever faced trouble from the Censor Board. As a chairman, he was well versed with the 1952 Cinematograph Act. Even seniors, experienced filmmakers took his suggestions about censorship.

Asha Parekh

The superhit star of the ‘60s was the CBFC chairperson from June 1998 to September 2001. She had a traditional approach to censorship. Asha Parekh developed a big conflict with filmmaker Shekhar Kapur regarding the censoring of the film Bandit Queen (1996). It led to a lot of misunderstanding between the two. Ultimately the film was censored in favour of Shekhar Kapur.

Vijay Anand

Vijay Anand was the best CBFC chairman according to many film personalities like Kamal Hasan and Madhur Bhandarkar. The way he censored the film Mr. & Mrs. Iyer without any hue and cry remains a lesson in film censorship. He was the CBFC chief from September 2001 to July 2002. During his short tenure of ten months, Anand redrafted the entire 1952 Cinematograph Act with inputs from censors of USA, UK, France and Greece. He was the first to propose separate censorship of television.

Sharmila Tagore

According to many, she was one of the most accomplished CBFC chairpersons. Her study of the Cinematograph Act was thorough. During her tenure, she suggested many amendments in the act, but it wasn’t payed heed to. Sharmila Tagore completed two terms as CBFC chairperson from October 2004 to March 2011.

Pahlaj Nihalani

Pahlaj Nihalani is perhaps the most controversial CBFC Chairman. Instead of being a friendly advisor to the film fraternity, he acted more like a moral police, which didn’t go well with many filmmakers of the recent time. He suggested 14 cuts to Madhur Bhandarkar’s film, Indu Sarkar. He also censored words by Amartya Sen in a documentary on the Nobel laureate by Suman Ghosh. Ultimately, he was removed from the post in August 2017 and now adman Prasoon Joshi is the new CBFC Chief.

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First Published: Aug 14, 2017 18:11 IST