KOCHI — Devika Rani and her real life husband Himanshu Rai kissed long and hard, four minutes to be precise, in “Karma”. That was in 1933 when the Indian Cinematograph Act of 1918 governed censorship of Indian cinema in the days of the British Raj.
It is a different story in 2015. Now governed by the Indian Cinematograph Act of 1952, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) under the stewardship of former purveyor of raunch Pahlaj Nihalani, has become increasingly prudish since appointed by the Narendra Modi regime earlier this year. A kiss between two of Bollywood’s hottest stars Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone in the upcoming romantic comedy “Tamasha”, was deemed to be too long by the CBFC and it was duly shortened.
The decision has come in for some merciless flak in India. CBFC board member Ashoke Pandit made his displeasure known in a series of tweets. “Pahlaj Nihalani has always functioned on his own accord and I don’t subscribe to his curtailing of creative rights,” Pandit began. He continued with, “Spectre” is an internationally applauded film, bt again Pahalaj Nihalani messes it up by shading it with his own thought process,” and “Nihalani’s action should not be a reflection of my choices. I feel it’s a mockery of the freedom of a filmmaker.”
Referring to Nihalani’s past body of work as a producer Pandit tweeted: “Pahalaj Nilhalani is a maker who started d trend of ‘vulgarity’ in Indian cinema esp. songs & is now giving sermons 2 filmmakers.”