Mumbai: No apology, no resignation, said Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani on Wednesday, as he fielded multiple attacks for having alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party funded Anurag Kashyap’s film Udta Punjab. Mr Nihalani said he cannot substantiate his allegation but, “I won’t apolgise, I said what I heard.”
Top filmmakers today said they stand with Mr Kashyap, who says that the Censor Board has ordered the removal of all references to Punjab and elections, imposing 89 cuts in his film, which deals with drug abuse in Punjab. They described Mr Nihalani’s allegation as an “insult to the entire industry” and have demanded not just an apology from him, but also his resignation, alleging a “conspiracy” to stall the film.
AAP too has strongly supported the team of Udta Punjab, and party chief Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Pahlaj Nihlani’s statement makes it amply clear that he has stopped the film on the BJP’s instructions.” Theparty has linked the board’s action with elections due in Punjab by early next year. In their campaign, AAP and the Congress have attacked the Akali Dal-BJP government in Punjab over the drug menace.
Mr Nihalani has denied any political influence in the censor board’s decision on Udta saying, “The Centre never interferes with the censor board, there was no political influence.” But he did say, “Yes, I am a chamcha of Narendra Modi as Anurag Kashyap said. I am proud to be, a Modi Chamcha (acolyte). Should I be a chamcha of the Italian Prime Minister instead?”
The Censor Board chief has also denied that he has asked the makers of the film to edit out “Punjab” from the film’s name, though he would not say what cuts he has ordered. He stands by them though saying, “only if one sees the entire film can one understand why ‘Punjab’ was deleted.”
Anurag Kahsyap has accused Mr Nihalani of arbitrary censorship and running the Censor Board as his personal fief, his “North Korea.”