Even adult films cannot use profanity: CBFC

Updated - November 16, 2021 05:12 pm IST

Published - March 29, 2015 03:55 pm IST - Mumbai

Pahlaj Nihalani, Chairperson, CBFC.

Pahlaj Nihalani, Chairperson, CBFC.

While the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and senior officials at CBFC have maintained that “the role of the CBFC is to certify and not censor,” an audio recording of two young filmmakers pleading with Pahlaj Nihalani, the Chairperson of the CBFC procured by The Hindu tells a very different story.

When filmmakers of independent film Yahaan Sabki Lagi Hai, Tina A Bose and Cyrus R Khambatta, went to meet the Chairperson to request him to relax the cuss-list directive since their film was made much before his tenure, Pahlaj Nihalani is heard clarifying that he didn’t make up the rule and it was a guideline that the Ministry had to change. The list of swear-words not allowed on screen existed even before his tenure, he clarified during a meeting held in the second week of March.

“I will not break the rules. I am handicapped. Everybody knows about the rule-book,” he is heard saying.

The Chairperson patiently spent over an hour with the young filmmakers to “help them” and advised them to redub the abusive language in the film. He said it will not pass even if they went to the revising committee because of the cuss-list guidelines.

When the filmmakers argued that they had made an adult film and pleaded that they be allowed to retain the profanity in the film, Pahlaj Nihalani is heard telling filmmakers that films with abusive language cannot be seen with parents. Films in the past had bribed their way to get clearance, he alleged.

Offering to “consider and convince the committee members” who had watched the film, Mr. Nihalani is heard negotiating with the filmmakers about words the Board could allow.

While being lenient with English four-letter words, the Chairperson came down strictly on Hindi abuses. “Even Amitabh Bachchan changed some abusive language with alternate dialogue in Shamitabh,” he is heard saying. “If you are a creative person, you should know how to go around it.”

“Instead of muting abusive language, just dub it again to fill in the blanks. So nobody will know,” said the former filmmaker.

Mr. Nihalani said that he made the cuss-list guideline public to save producers precious time before release. They could just avoid bad language. “Clean pictures will run better,” he is heard explaining during the meeting. “Films with bad language don’t do well. Your expenditure to redub will be 5000 rupees… Immediately, I will give you the certificate.”

Mr. Nihalani is then heard offering dubbing solutions to the young filmmakers. “You can dub g**** with Mirchi and Mother***** can be dubbed as maikalaal.”

The filmmakers found that even after executing the cuts suggested after the negotiation with the Chairperson, Real Image Lab in Mumbai that was generating the digital print of the film went on to cut two extra words (from the cuss-list guidelines) because they feared that the CBFC would come down hard on them for allowing it.

While the Ministry and many highly placed CBFC officials have been denying the existence of such a cuss-list, it remains a mystery how it continues to be implemented. While profanity is not allowed even in adult films, officials continue to insist that the CBFC hasn’t been moral policing.

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