Anshul Chaturvedi (BOMBAY TIMES; August 13, 2017)

I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire,“ Winston Churchill famously said in 1942.

In spite of his liberal views, Prasoon Joshi has probably not been appointed the CBFC chief in order to preside over the liquidation of censorship in India just yet. While the industry's desire that the CBFC steps away from censorship and restricts itself to certification may not come true overnight, a rewind to Prasoon's opinions and observations on the issue in recent years would indicate that at the very least, the industry could expect a far more rational and thought-out approach in decision-making.

In 2015, when Margarita With A Straw ran into censor trouble, Prasoon - the film's screenwriter and lyricist ­ made the point that “this is not an industry of irresponsible people, but of creativity. A filmmaker has no intent of making a film to spoil society; one should recognize his talent and the effort behind it.“

In the same year, he made these observations on the certification process: “A filmmaker is reflecting and shaping the society as well, and, for that, sensitivity is required. Most of the filmmakers I work with have it. So, I feel one should not try and reach a stage where the certification process becomes like a computer programme. You put your reels and after some beep sounds, you get the certificate.“

As that thought process gets to work in the CBFC, filmmakers may expect to not be treated as irresponsible truants to be disciplined, and hope that their sensibilities will be better comprehended. When as staunch a critic of the CBFC as Vivek Agnihotri states that he was tempted to join it after I&B Minister Smriti Irani informed him of Prasoon's appointment, it's safe to say that the government will probably be able to take a break from the pattern of recurrently having egg on its face, courtesy CBFC issues.

A second undercurrent of thought has been that Prasoon has usually not subscribed to the populist view that  'cinema corrupts' and therefore has to be set right each week. “Why blame censorship for vulgar songs? Our collective conscience as Indian listeners should censor bad songs,“ he has argued. “Just taking films or papers or channels, making them stand in a row and declaring that 'aap ne bigada hai' is a simplistic argument. Itni aasaan baat nahi hai,“ he told us in 2013.

And then put the question back in these words: “My biggest question is that if there is something you find offensive - a certain song or a certain lyric or a certain scene or a portrayal or a book - and it is a big hit, you go to YouTube and you find 12 million hits for that song. Then you question the society you are living in. Are we having double standards? Are we consuming something else as people, and condemning it outside? It poses a larger question.“

In 2010, Prasoon in a piece for The Times Of India, wrote, “Today, there is a democratization of thought. There's opportunity for individuals to contribute to the formation of mass culture rather than just being passive observers.“

Shaping the CBFC's approach is about as significant a chance to contribute to the formation of mass culture as it gets right now.