Prasoon Joshi accused of delaying Bhojpuri film censor process.

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) found itself embroiled in controversy last year when accusations of bribery and corruption were leveled against its officials by South actor Vishal. Now, less than six months later, the CBFC is once again making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The makers of a high-budget Bhojpuri film titled “Rang De Basanti” are facing significant hurdles in obtaining the necessary censor certificate for their film. They have alleged that CBFC chairperson, Prasoon Joshi, is intentionally delaying the process due to the film sharing a similar name to a 2006 Hindi movie starring Aamir Khan, a film for which Joshi had served as a lyricist.

In a letter dated March 5, Roshan Singh, the producer of “Rang De Basanti,” informed CBFC that he had applied for the certificate on February 3. Despite the film being screened on February 19 and the screening report being submitted on February 21, the process has been stalled awaiting approval from the chairperson. Subsequently, on March 6, Abhay Sinha, president of the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA), also wrote to CBFC urging for urgent clearance as the film’s scheduled release date was set for March 22.

With no response from CBFC, the filmmakers penned another letter on March 9, revealing that on March 8, they were asked to change the title of the film by a CBFC official over a phone call. Roshan Singh expressed frustrations with the delays, stating that despite various follow-ups, they were left in the dark as to the reasons behind the hold-up. Furthermore, he claimed that on March 8, a CBFC representative suggested altering the film’s title, a move that was deemed unfeasible by the filmmakers due to ongoing promotional activities and formal submissions made under the original title.

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Singh went on to accuse Prasoon Joshi of purposefully targeting their film, citing previous examples of Bhojpuri films with similar titles securing certification without issues. Pahlaj Nihalani, a filmmaker and former CBFC chairperson, joined the chorus of criticism, lambasting Joshi for what he perceived as biased treatment towards big-budget productions over smaller, regional films.

As of March 8, the CBFC website listed “Rang De Basanti” as ‘Pending for Review of Examination Report by Chairman,’ indicating an unusual delay. Nihalani advocated for the filmmakers to seek legal recourse if necessary, drawing parallels to past instances where swift judicial intervention had resolved similar disputes.

In light of the mounting pressure on CBFC, it remains to be seen how the situation will unfold, with concerns raised over possible favoritism towards established filmmakers and the need for equitable treatment across the board. The plight of “Rang De Basanti” serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by smaller productions in navigating the often murky waters of film certification and censorship in India’s cinematic landscape.