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Adipurush cringe dialogues! Shouldn’t the film be sent to CBFC for recertification? – Beyond Bollywood

Former CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani claims that earlier there was one Rule 6 which saw a film’s release being halted, and then cleared after recertification. Nihalani affirms that if he was in the board, then no way would he have allowed such dialogues in the film.

1. Adipurush poster. 2. Pahlaj Nihalani

By Mayur Lookhar

If public reaction was to be measured in monetary terms, then the public outrage over Adipurush would have outreached the film’s three-day box office collection by millions. The film has raised brows from the time the teaser had dropped on 2 October last year. The filmmakers – director Om Raut, dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir, producer T-Series – have swung into damage control mode, acknowledging the hurt public sentiments and agreed to change few contentious dialogues in the film.

Whilst the film is an overall disappointment, fans, devout Hindus/Indians have been particularly enraged with the poor character portrayal of the leading characters, especially Lord Hanuman and his rowdy tone and the certain cringe dialogues. Given the nation-wide, global criticism, many are shocked as to how this film was cleared by the CBFC? [Central Board of Film Certification]. Is there any provision in the CBFC guidelines wherein such films can be reexamined and recertified following the wide criticism post its release?

We spoke to former CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani who shed some light in this regard.

“Yes, there is one Rule 6 wherein a film’s release can be halted. It is resent for certification and then cleared for screening after recommended changes have been made,” clarified Nihalani. 

He adds, “This rule was there during my time. I believe now it has been abolished. I think they have also done away with the tribunal. Even if the rule isn’t there, if public sentiments are hurt at large, then the filmmakers must make changes,” said Nihalani.

The former CBFC chairman hasn’t seen Adipurush, but he has naturally taken stock of the widespread criticism. He says, “From what I’ve gauged, there is anger with few dialogues/lines. All it takes is a day’s effort to change them and your film can resume the screenings.”

As bizarre as Adipurush turned out to be, one has been taken aback by the more bizarre defence of the film by director Om Raut and lyricist, dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir Shukla.  The latter declared on a news channel that their film is not Ramayan. More shockingly, Shukla claimed that grandmothers in his town [Amethi] taught kids Ramayan in such [trashy] language.  Both Raut and Shukla opined that they used such language to attract the youth.

Disagreeing with Shukla, Nihalani says, “As far as I know, people of UP, Bihar all speak in a cultural tone. They don’t use words like tu (you).  If you say that such dialogues were written to appeal to the youth, then do you want your youth and future generations to be taporis (rowdy)? This reflects the ego of the writer. After the criticism of the teaser, they had over six months to set things right, but it appears that they have only concentrated on the marketing, and commercial aspects.”

It is befuddling to note that how the CFBC didn’t object to such cringe dialogues. The U certification to Adipurush [2023] now looks very surprising.

Commenting on it, Nihalani says, “Look, as long as there is no violence, bloodied action /bold scenes, then usually such subjects are passed with a U certification.”  

We posed a hypothetical question to Nihalani that if he was in the chair today, how would he have certified Adipurush?

“If I was there, there is no way that I would have allowed such a thing,” Nihalani said confidently.

The former CBFC chairman had an eventful stint [2015-2017] before he was relieved of his duties by the then Smriti Irani-led Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

He did rile many a feather, but Nihalani was also praised by those for strongly sticking to the CBFC guidelines, and hauling up films with excessive violence or bold content.

“Today, you feel there is lot of leeway. The big films are cleared easily, it is only the small films that tend to court trouble. In my time, we were consistent in our certification. In 2015, there was pressure from the central government to remove a scene from Bajrangi Bhaijaan, but after reviewing it, I found nothing objectionable and we cleared it.”

Sundarrao Nadkarni’s Valmiki [1946], Vijay Bhatt’s Ramayan [1954], Babubhai Mistry’s Sampoorna Ramayana [1961], Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan [1987 TV series], Siya Ke Ram series [2015-2016], The veteran filmmaker, producer cited above titles as great adaptations of the ancient Hindu/Indian epic.

Unfortunately, Adipurush is being labelled as the most poor adaptation of the ancient Hindu/Indian epic. It is a film that has the blessings of various state heads, particularly from the ruling central government. There was a stout defence on day one, but by Sunday, Adipurush makers had swung into damage control mode.

It’s not just the public, but now opposition parties, and even one BJP leader has taken offence to the film.  There is more concern for Adipurush after reports emerged that saints in Ayodhya – the birthplace of Lord Ram – have called for the film to be banned in their district. UP is the most important state in Indian politics.  Aggrieved citizens have filed PIL in courts demanding a stay order on the film. 

Remarkably, Nepal, India’s tiny little neighbor, has not only banned Adipurush but has banned all future Indian films from releasing in the kingdom. Nepal has long claimed that Sita Maa came from their land.

Phew, one certainly hasn’t heard the last word on Adipurush.

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