Lasyapriya Sundaram (BOMBAY TIMES; April 6, 2017)

Controversy has dogged the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) ever since Pahlaj Nihalani took over as its chairperson. And it looks like there is no respite even after the Board has acquired a swanky new workspace within the premises of the Films Division office in South Mumbai. Most of the members were upset about not being invited for the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday afternoon. Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi and Ashoke Pandit have already voiced their displeasure. Amitabh Bachchan, Raveena Tandon, Kiran Shantaram, Anupam Kher, director duo, Abbas-Mustan, Bharat Shah, Ramesh Sippy and Bhushan Kumar were among those present at the event.

When asked about members not being invited for the function, Nihalani stated, “The Censor Board has 175 members, so it's difficult to send an invite to everyone. And if they are members, why do they need an invitation? The function was held essentially for the stakeholders - that is producers and directors - to inform them how the certification process can now be carried out online, without any hassles.“

Countering complaints of 'uninvited' members, the CBFC head argued, “Those who are complaining have not participated in the administrative function of the CBFC and have not even visited the old office, which has been there since 1952. For example, when they are called to be a part of the panel of the Review Committee of a film, they don't come. So, why complain now?“ As for some reportedly attributing their absence to short notice, Nihalani says, “The event was put together in a span of 48 hours. We did the best we could. We got the go-ahead only four days prior to the function.“ Not one to let negativity cloud a new beginning, he was more excited about the new office as he enthused, “The Mumbai office shoulders close to 50-55 per cent of the load of certifying films on a regular basis. We certify close to 2,500 feature films and around 11,000 short films and commercials annually. We wanted a space that functioned like the passport and visa offices. Now, producers can apply for certification online, eliminating middle men. Only when there are changes do they need to come to the CBFC premises. I had appealed to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to give us a new space and they have done so.“