Pahlaj Nihalani says he only invited actors and stakeholders to the inauguration on Tuesday
Avinash Lohana (MUMBAI MIRROR; April 5, 2017)

On Monday, the media was invited to the inauguration of the new Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) office in Mumbai’s Films Division Building, along with a few B-townies, including Amitabh Bachchan, Sunny Deol, Govinda and Raveena Tandon, but none of the Censor Board members had made it to the guest list.

“I got to know about the function from a journalist friend and initially thought that only a few members had not got the invite but enquiries revealed that none of us had,” grouses filmmaker and CBFC member Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi. When questioned, the CEO of the CBFC, Anurag Shrivastav, in an email justified his decision, saying “This function is of administrative nature and has no bearing on policy issues,” adding, “Since some of the Board members had already objected to even discussing or hearing out the CEO about the new office plans in the Board meeting, it was understood that members would not be interested in this function”.

Earlier, on March 27, the Online Film Certification System was launched in the Capital and Board members were informed only three days prior to the event. They were told that since time was short, they would need to make their own flight and accommodation arrangements and reimbursed later. Feeling slighted, Dwivedi retorted that though he would be in Delhi on the day for other work, he had no wish to attend the function given that the invitation was nothing more than lip service.

The CEO made a reference to that, saying this time the notice period was even shorter as confirmations (Ajay Mittal, Secretary, I & B Ministry, lit the lamp and Amitabh Bachchan inaugurated the office) were received much later. Invitation cards were not made or mailed either and Chairman Pahlaj Nihalani invited film personalities on SMS on April 2. Given the flak they had faced earlier for the short notice, he felt it would be worse this time.

“Dr Dwivedi despite being in Delhi chose to excuse himself from that prestigious function. Hence it was thought prudent to avoid any criticism on this ground at least. Unfortunately however, the results are the same,” Anurag noted.

Dwivedi argues that if he chose to not attend one event, it didn’t mean that other Board members not be invited for another. “It is our prerogative if we wish to attend or not, but the courtesy should have been extended to every member,” he says.

Another board member, filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, terms the move a “sign of arrogance” and complains that Pahlaj Nihalani is running the CBFC like his own production house. “We have been appointed by the government. The fact that he didn’t invite us proves that he is an anarchist,” he thunders.

While Anurag did not wish to comment on the matter “as it is not my area”, Nihalani informed that he had invited only the stakeholders and the actors. “The Mumbai Censor Board members are working against the act and guidelines of the CBFC. I haven’t been using their service for the last two years. When I hold meetings they grumble and I’m not comfortable with that so I did not invite any Board or panel members. If they valued the CBFC, they would have come on their own. For the Delhi event we had invited everyone, but only a few turned up and if the short notice was a problem then let me tell you that Mr Bachchan came despite the short notice,” he asserts.