Well-known filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani is new Censor Board chief

New Delhi: Four days after Leela Samson quit, film producer Pahlaj Nihalani, younger brother of filmmaker Govind Nihalani, was on Monday appointed the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), along with nine new members.

Nihalani has produced films like "Shola Aur Shabnam" and "Andaz" in the past, and is a former president of the Association of Motion Picture and Television Programme Producers.

Pahlaj Nihalani
Pahlaj Nihalani

"The Central Government is pleased to appoint Pahlaj Nihalani as Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification in an honorary capacity from Jan 19, 2015 for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier," read a statement from the ministry of information and broadcasting.

The nine members appointed with immediate effect include Mihir Bhuta, Syed Abdul Bari, Ramesh Patange, George Baker, Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, Jeevitha, Vani Tripathi Tikoo, S. Ve Shekhar and Ashoke Pandit.

The decision comes just days after Samson resigned as CBFC chairperson, citing interference, coercion and corruption of panel members.

CBFC is a statutory body under the ministry of information and broadcasting. It regulates the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952.

Samson, an acclaimed Bharatnatyam dancer, was appointed its chair in 2011, and she and her members were continuing on interim extensions.

Following her, 10 of the Censor Board's members -- Ira Bhaskar, Lora Prabhu, Pankaj Sharma, Rajeev Masand, Sekharbabu Kancherla, Shaji N. Karun, Shubhra Gupta, T.G. Thyagarajan, Mamang Dai and Arundhati Nag - also put in their papers via a letter to the ministry, citing the "cavalier and dismissive manner" in which the board is treated by the government. M.K. Raina and Anjum Rajabali had resigned from the board earlier itself.

The breaking point regarding their resignation is said to be the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal's (FCAT) green signal to the release of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's controversial film "MSG - The Messenger of God" despite the decision of the CBFC to deny clearance to the film.

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