Mumbai: Pahlaj Nihalani, who grabbed many a headline for trimming films during his tenure as CBFC chief, has turned distributor for an upcoming erotic-thriller, ‘Julie 2’, which he described as a “very clean, adult movie”.
Full page posters of the film, showing a woman on a sandy beach with a hat covering her face and an open magazine placed strategically across her body, were placed in major newspapers on Monday.
Nihalani attended the trailer launch of the movie – his first public event after being replaced by Prasoon Joshi – and was bombarded with questions about his decision to back a film like ‘Julie 2’, a genre he has vehemently objected to in the past.
Asked how many cuts he would’ve given to the film if he had been in his old job, Nihalani told reporters, “It’s not my job anymore. Let the designated person decide how many cuts it should have or not. It is a very clean, adult movie.
“If I was there, I would not have given it any cut and given an ‘A’ certificate. It doesn’t have obscenity or any cuss words. It’s a complete, adult, family film.”
Asked if he was no longer “sanskaari” for distributing a film like ‘Julie 2’, he said, “This is my business. This is an adult film and I am asking for an ‘A’ certificate only, not for ‘U’ or ‘U/A’.
“I am ‘sanskaari’, it’s in our mitti. India is a place where nothing is bigger than ‘sanskaar’. I was, am and will be this (sanskaari).”
The erotic thriller, directed by Deepak Shivdasani, marks the Hindi film debut of South actor Raai Laxmi. It is the sequel to Shivdasani’s earlier film ‘Julie’, which featured Neha Dhupia.
Criticism of the movie during the launch event did not go down well with Shivdasani, who intervened and slammed the media judging it way before its release.
When a reporter asked Nihalani how he could back such a film, the director shouted, “Excuse me. I want to say something before you put your questions.”
Shivdasani became visibly aggressive and said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
It was only after the media asked him to lower his voice that the director calmed down.
Nihalani said he had no right to comment on how the film would be viewed by the CBFC, but insisted he won’t target the board to garner publicity.
“CBFC will decide what they want to do, but we will not use the board as a platform to get publicity for our film.” Calling himself a “soldier”, Nihalani said he has never made or backed films that have landed in trouble with the CBFC.
“This is my journey, I am a soldier, and I’ll fight it till the end despite being wounded,” he said.
He said he worked till the last day in office as the CBFC chief and passed all the films. Not a single movie remains stuck with the board, he said.
During his stint with the CBFC, Nihalani courted controversies frequently. After his appointment, a list of banned words started doing the rounds on the Internet.
He faced the ire of James Bond fans and others when he cut short a kissing scene in ‘Spectre’. ‘Udta Punjab’ ran into trouble with Nihalani, who had asked to remove Punjab from the movie title and demanded as many as 89 cuts in the film.
Nihalani also refused certification to ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ for being too “lady-oriented”.
He had recently asked the makers of ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ to remove the word “intercourse” from the trailer.