A galaxy of Bollywood stars and filmmakers have met with India’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting to raise the film fraternity’s concern over draconian new rules introduced by the country’s Censor board.
Actors Aamir Khan, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma, Vidya Balan were joined by filmmakers Mukesh Bhatt, Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar, renowned lyricist Gulzar and others met with Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in Mumbai last night.
The meeting comes just days after a member of censor board slammed its newly-elected chairman Pahlaj Nihalani for his “midnless tyranny” when it comes to rating films.
In February a document prepared by Nihalani and listing dozens of “cuss words” that cannot be featured in films was leaked to the press causing uproar.
After last night’s meeting, producer-director Mukesh Bhatt said: “We met with Mr Rathore to discuss a range of key issues faced by us due to the latest guidelines issued by the censor board. We told him that the word censor has become very redundant.
“We asked him whether we are heading back to the dark days”.
Mr Bhatt however denied that the film fraternity had called for Nihalani – himself a film producer – to be sacked.
Bhatt, who is the President of Film and Television Producers Guild of India, said the minister assured him that the issue will be resolved soon.
Minister Rathore weighed in: “No individual can affect the certification of films, so is the process. So, things are made in such a manner that no one person can hijack the system.”
Nihalani has become the target of ridicule after the list of cuss words – including words such as “bastard” – was released.
However, he has remained defiant saying cinema should not be allowed to “corrupt” India.
Earlier this week, filmmaker Ashoke Pandit – a member of the Central Board of Film Certification – called Nihalani a tyrant and accused him of turning the board into a “laughing stock”.
Mr Pandit wrote on his Facebook page: “Films after films are becoming innocent victims of his mindless tyranny. His ridiculous diktats and autocratic functioning has made CBFC a laughing stock.”
Pandit pointed to Anushka Sharma-starrer ‘NH10’ as evidence of the confused functioning of the censor board under Nihalani’s leadership.
The film, originally blocked by censors, opened in cinemas on Friday after its makers were asked to make nine cuts.
“The cuts have been levied in spite of the film-maker agreeing to an adult certificate,” Pandit said.
He added that Nihalani had gone ahead with asking for the cuts despite objections from other panel members.