'You Want to Show Everyone How You Are Doing Sex?' Pahlaj Nihalani Defends James Bond Cuts
It has been less than a year since ex-producer Pahlaj Nihalani assumed the position of the Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification of India, and yet the list of controversies during his reign is longer than the films that release after he's done with them. According to the statement he made to the Mumbai Mirror in his latest interview, his job at the CBFC is an “honorary” one. If the chairperson is just a figurehead, then why was there a need to give the job to a Modi fanboy, a government puppet, and a member of the saffron brigade? This latest interview came in the wake of the “Sanskaari Bond” controversy. After the CBFC cut down a kissing scene in the latest Bond film, Spectre , by 20 seconds, the Twitterati unleashed a hailstorm of sarcastic comments directed at Nihalani and the board, and rightly so.
#SanskariJamesBond does not kill enemy agents on Tuesdays, Thursdays and during Nav Ratri.— Still 14 (@Etardoh) November 18, 2015
#SanskariJamesBond keeps three gazetted-officer-attested xeroxes of his license to kill.— greatbong (@greatbong) November 18, 2015
Diamonds Are For Zevar Octopuja Casino Loyal License to Mil Shy Another Day You Only Live Many Times Quantum of Shraddha #sanskarijamesbond— Akshar (@AksharPathak) November 18, 2015
The CBFC has never been the most progressive body, and is probably responsible for a substantial chunk of video piracy that takes place in India, as watching uncut foreign content through legal means is not really an option. However, its decisions were not always completely devoid of reason. Films like The Hangover released in theatres with very few cuts, which were restricted only to nudity. Under Nihalani, though, the board is intent on taking us back to the Stone Age.
“There has to be a Lakshman Rekha. Few thousand people on Twitter don't know what India is. India is a land where people put Gangajal on their face. Aap chahte ho aise desh mein sab free ho ?”
Even if one chooses to ignore his use of the term “Lakshman Rekha”, which speaks volumes about his primitive mindset, there is still an appalling contradiction to contend with. While he rubbishes the concerns of thousands of people on Twitter by effectively calling them un-Indian, he does exactly what he's accusing them of doing, i.e, assume that he represents all 1.2 billion people that live in India, all of whom apparently put gangajal on their faces. One wonders how the river hasn't run dry by now.
“This means you want to do sex in your house with your door open. And show to people the way you are doing sex.”
Nihalani's incredibly stupid statement in defence of cutting down the kiss in Spectre may be a cause for hilarity, but once the laughter dies down, we should all be pretty scared. The person who controls what films we get to see has effectively declared that “too much freedom” is a bad thing, and the extent of freedom is decided by arbitrarily cutting down the length of a kiss. The CBFC has always had a hard time understanding that films are not screened on the street, but in theatres where people choose to buy tickets to enter. Nihalani's statements indicate that it is going to be taken one step further, and even online content could be censored. In effect, we can wave the dream of services like Netflix goodbye, and resign to the fact that we are forever doomed to view horribly censored versions of films, or pirate them. The saffron tide could very well enter our homes in the near future.