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Anurag Kashyap: 'Haraamkhor' ban: Senile and incapable Nihalani getting back at court

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who feels it's a waste of time and energy to wrangle with the Indian censor board for certification of adult films, says it's important that in a scenario when the censor body is chaired by a "senile" and "intellectually incapable" person such as Pahlaj Nihalani, movie makers must be empowered to approach the court directly.

Anurag Kashyap
Anurag Kashyap

"Give us the power that if we are making an adult film, and we are seeking an adult certificate, we can go straight to the court or straight to the Tribunal (Film Certification Appellate Tribunal - FCAT). Why should we go through the humiliation of going through him (Pahlaj Nihalani) and waste time," Kashyap, 43, told IANS in a no-holds-barred interview here.

Kashyap's co-production "Udta Punjab" -- a movie on the drug menace in Punjab -- could release in India only after the Bombay High Court intervened and overruled the Central Board of Film Certification's (CBFC) directive to make 89 cuts.

Now another of the filmmaker's co-productions, "Haraamkhor", is left in the lurch for a certificate as its theme of a teacher-student romance has been deemed unfit for the Indian market.

There are more films -- Sunny Deol's abuse-laden "Mohalla Assi" and Manoj Bajpayee-starrer "Saat Uchakkey" which is also laced with expletives.

According to Kashyap, one of the most outspoken filmmakers of his times, the recent hassles on certification are a result of one man's ego.

"He's a very strange man who hates that somebody took his power away. What the court said to the censor board was that 'You can't cut a film and if you have a problem, refuse the censor certificate'. So in four days, he refused certificate to some films randomly... including 'Haraamkhor' and 'Saat Uchakkey'.

"His ego is so big that he can't take the fact that someone took his powers away," stressed the filmmaker, who is acclaimed for handling dark themes deftly, and had earlier hit out at Nihalani by calling him an "oligarch".

After the Examining Committee suggested 89 cuts to "Udta Punjab", it went to the Revising Committee which scaled down the cuts to 13. Kashyap says filmmakers are now increasingly skipping going through the latter and reaching out straight to the FCAT.

"There's no difference left. The same people sit there and the same mindset follows. So, it's a waste of time and energy. Pahlaj-ji dictates terms," he said, adding that he finds Nihalani "intellectually incapable of the position" he holds.

"He is an ancient mindset. Cinema has grown beyond him. The world of internet has changed the way information flows. People are well-informed and they are much more mature... He doesn't understand that cinema has far more responsibility now than just to entertain," Kashyap said of Nihalani, who has earlier produced films like "Shola Aur Shabnam", "Aankhen" and "Andaz".

Kashyap hopes the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting acts upon recommendations of the Shyam Benegal Committee -- which has suggested a revised system of certification and abolition of censorship.

Meanwhile, he is happy that "Udta Punjab" released intact -- the way it was meant to -- in India.

"I am happy that the film has resonated well with the people, especially in Punjab. And when people see the movie, the only thing that I'm happy about is that now they can see what was being cut out. They can imagine what it would have been like (with the CBFC-suggested cuts)," he said.

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