This is a lopsided debate. Freedom of speech and expression is not a one-way street. Everybody has rights and freedoms, so does Pahlaj Nihalani, our Sanskari Censor Board chief who has now kicked up a big storm in Bollywood because Udta Punjab can’t pass muster, his muster. Let’s not get cross with him, let’s not swear at him, we know for sure that’s not going to get us far with him. So, let’s try to understand him. Look at things from his point of view. Maybe if we respect his rights he’ll respect ours. Here’s a list of eight rights of Nihalani we must protect. Feel free to add to this list. The more we understand him, the faster we do it, the better for Bollywood.
1) Right to cut: Pretty self-explanatory, although whether or not this includes giving people a quick haircut has yet to be decided.
2) Right to be offended: It doesn’t matter if the rest of the nation finds something funny, moving or thought-provoking (God forbid). If Nihalani doesn’t like it, it’s gone.
3) Right to be sanskari: So what if it’s a film about a British man working for a South African company in Venezuela, he better not be seen doing things that go against Indian culture.
4) Right to not hear gaalis: Seriously, you need us to explain this? What the @#$K is wrong with you?
5) Right to euphemism: Nihalani is not Arnab Goswami, he doesn’t like things ‘direct’. So what’s the big deal? Why can’t Anurag Kashyap be a little more accommodative? Like why can’t he rename the film Udta Land of Five Rivers?
6) Right to logical thinking: Udta Punjab! Does that sound like a film about Punjab’s drug problem or its rapid economic growth? And you think Nihalani is illogical?
7) Right to improve his grades: Nihalani made “B” grade movies and is now granting “A” grade to movies he doesn’t understand. Net-net he’s improved, right?
8) Right to bite the hand that feeds him: He was brought out of oblivion by this government and his job is make to them look good. But each time he opens his mouth and we can’t make up our minds on who’s looking sillier, he or his masters, isn’t that a matter between them? What’s your problem?