Previous board denied certificate to film on homosexuality, says CBFC chief

‘Am being pulled into controversies unnecessarily’

Updated - November 16, 2021 05:11 pm IST

Published - April 01, 2015 02:54 am IST - MUMBAI

Under fire for ‘banning’ a film that explores homosexuality, Censor Board of Film Certification chairman Pahlaj Nihalani on Tuesday clarified that the film, Blemished Light , was refused a certificate during the previous regime and that he was “unnecessarily being pulled into controversies” due to some “malafide interests.”

While the filmmakers have expressed outrage over the “ban,” saying it took away “basic human rights,” Mr. Nihalani said it was not correct to say that the Board had “banned” the film.

The directorial debut of Florida-based director Raj Amit Kumar, starring actors Adil Hussain and Victor Banerjee in key roles, is a thriller based in New York and New Delhi. It espouses homosexuality and also touches on Islamist terrorism.

The film was refused a certificate by the Examining Committee (EC) in November 2014, as it contained a “controversial theme, full frontal nudity, nude lesbian love scenes and violence,” sources in the CBFC said. The filmmakers then referred it to the Revising Committee (RC). The RC, which included board member Nandini Sardesai, passed the film with an “A” certificate but with a few cuts. The filmmakers, however, approached the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) which upheld the EC’s decision. Insiders who have watched the film said it dealt with certain “problematic representations.”

“Where is the Board’s role in it? Why are people questioning me for it? The applicant was given the certificate with a few cuts but they refused to take it,” Mr. Nihalani told The Hindu . Mr Kumar was not available for comment.

“When your film is not doing well, you create a controversy saying the Board banned your film just to seek mileage for it to do well,” Mr. Nihalani said, while coming down heavily on the media for “misreporting” details. “They have got even the film’s name wrong. The movie is not Unfreedom [as reported by most sections of the media] but Blemished Light ,” he pointed out.

He claims that since assuming office, he has cleared 200 films, of which 12 were sent to the RC and only two films he actually watched himself — NH10 and Focus ; both films were released. Mr. Nihalani clarified that stories about his style of functioning were misconstrued by the media. “As a chairperson I have the first right to watch these films, but I give this chance to the board members. I spend time in my office clearing files, not to watch films and deliver cuts. It is my duty to clear the files and watch every file carefully,” he said. Mr. Nihalani said he guaranteed “tatkal services” to filmmakers in securing certificates. “Show us your promos and in 24 hours, I guarantee that you will get a certificate,” is his message to filmmakers.

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