Pahlaj Nihalani slams Sharmila Tagore for clearing ‘Omkara’


Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani is making headlines nowadays for his disappointment with the foul language that Bollywood filmmakers use. He has yet another complaint now, not with some filmmaker but with his predecessor. He has pointed out that Sharmila Tagore gave clearance to a film that contained ample abusive language. Sharmila had passed the Vishal Bharadwaj film ‘Omkara’.

The film was filled with obscene and abusive words, still Sharmila had given the green light to it. Pahlaj Nihalani came forward with a solid reason as to why Sharmila might have taken such a step and the reason is clearly the ‘Omkara’ star cast. It featured Sharmila’s son Saif Ali Khan too. Nihalani has alleged that it was due to bias towards her son, that she made this decision. He said in an interview, “Omkara was her son Saif Ali Khan’s film. The board cleared it on her pressure which set the trend and release of films like Gangs of Wasseypur happened.”

Sharmila  Tagore was the chief of Indian Film Censor Board in the period starting from October 2004 up to  March of 2011. The crime thriller ‘Omkara’ was released within this time. This 2006 film, had Saif Ali Khan, Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor and Vivek Oberoi in the lead roles. It was based on Shakespeare’s work ‘Othello’ and went on to become a huge hit. Besides bagging seven Filmfare Awards, it won three National Film Awards too. Other then Hindi, it contained lots of words from Khariboli dialect- spoken in Western India, generally in rural areas. Censor Board of India gave an A certificate to the film, but numerous critics and audience were against the foul language spoken in it.

Pahlaj Nihalani is talking a lot about the inappropriate language in films nowadays. “Normal civilized people don’t abuse the way we see in films”, is what he feels. He is quite hopeful that he will succeed in eliminating abusive language from movies, “I am definitely going to change the way films are censored, so that once a film is given certificate there is no controversy or doubts about its credibility. There will accountability and no room for ambiguity in the censoring process.” Recently, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) issued a list containing the abusive Hindi and English words that should be banned in films. The list has gone viral and is creating quite a buzz though it was “not for the media” Nihalani says.