Pahlaj Nihalani
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Central Board puts on hold list of banned words!

Pahlaj Nihalani

By HT

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has put on hold the list of 28 "objectionable and abusive" words to be banned from Indian movies that was recently leaked.

In a circular to the producers’ association and regional officers, the Central Board of Film Certification listed several "objectionable words" that are being used in films and directed its regional officers to ensure a ban on the list of cuss words. It also aimed to seek more conformity from directors and scriptwriters on cultural matters and political correctness. Bombay, for instance, the colonial name of India's financial capital — changed to Mumbai in 1995 — isn't acceptable. The new censor board comprises members mostly formally or informally associated with the ruling BJP.

The list created a controversy and met with stiff opposition from inside the board as well as the film fraternity. A well-placed source said that during a several-hour- long meeting of CBFC in Mumbai on Monday, several members of the board opposed the move to impose such a ban. It is understood that status quo would be maintained and the list will be put on hold, the source said.

Attempts to contact CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani or CEO Shravan Kumar for an official comment did not fructify.

The letter by Nihalani directed its regional officers not to issue certificates to films which use these words, which are abuses in Hindi and English, and it has also been specified that double meaning words, violence against women and glorification of bloodshed should not be allowed. The list evoked a strong reaction with many in the film fraternity opposing the move.

For instance, “Bombay”, the colonial name of India's financial capital — changed to Mumbai in 1995 — isn't acceptable. The new censor board comprises members mostly formally or informally associated with the ruling BJP.

At the time when the list was leaked online, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt told Hindustan Times, "This is so regressive. Bollywood can't be a soft power without freedom. You can't stop an elephant with cobwebs."

"The words the censor board does not want you to hear, a.k.a words every kid already knows," filmmaker Danish Aslam had said.

Reacting to the list, national award winning director Hansal Mehta said, "This board has again taken us back in time. They want us to protect Indian culture but it is the culture as the RSS wants." He, however, expressed hope that things will be corrected soon. "Let's see what happens...a few members of the board have opposed the list of banned words so hopefully good sense will prevail."

Sources said that the Information and Broadcasting ministry too was not very pleased with controversies that were emanating from the censor board. A senior functionary in the ministry, however, said that it stays away from matters related to certification.