Former Central Board of Film Certification chief, Pahlaj Nihalani, has blamed Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani for his removal from the post. He said it was Irani’s ego that became responsible for his exit.
“Indu Sarkar was a main issue. Smriti Irani is always an issue. Whichever ministry she has gone, she has shown her presence. She has dominated the thing. Here was a man, who was already (being discussed) in the media. Definitely, how long would she need to demolish me? Then finally, she told me ‘why you not clearing the film Indu Sarkar?‘ I said I would go with the procedure, but the picture is now with the tribunal. You get it cleared from the tribunal.”
Nihalani said that Indu Sarkar proved to be the sole reason for his ouster because he could not satisfy Irani’s ego.
“I think so because on Indu Sarkar, Irani’s ego could not be satisfied and also that she had to make her presence felt in the I&B ministry. And who would have been a bigger target in the I&B ministry than me. The reason for my removal was that I did not listen to her… Because she has to register that she’s a powerful minister wherever she goes. And she knows the industry more than me.”
Nihalani said that the Centre’s Narendra Modi government under Arun Jaitley as I&B minister had specifically told him not to pass Udta Punjab. The Anurag Kashyap’s film had courted controversy on its release just before the Punjab assembly elections.
He also revealed that he was under pressure from the central government not to approve the Salman Khan-starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan, released in 2015 because of its title.
He said, “I got a call from the ministry to not release the film on Eid because of its title as the ministry thought that the film was about love jihad. But I’d heard the script before and the film’s writer was also writing a film for me at the time. It was an advanced letter. Later, I wrote letters to the ministry asking them to see the film according to the guidelines,” Nihalani told Lehren TV, adding, “I have gone out of my way but I have been made a villain by Salman Khan and the film’s director Kabir Khan.”
Nihalani was sacked from his post on 11 August with renowned lyricist, Prasoon Joshi, being appointed in his place. He said that he learnt about his removal from the media.