This is a time when all citizens need to be alert and attentive. The government is issuing many guidelines. The police are extremely active. We have fallen far, and there is much work to be done. No government tool is being left unused in order to uplift us. Led by Pahlaj Nihalani, the Censor Board is at the forefront of this battle. It is important to study their activities in order to understand what the government expects of us. So far we have understood that a) when kissing someone, we should not spend more than twenty seconds and b) the world “balls” should not be used. Instead, we should be using the word “cats”, as in “Papa! Sonu hit me in the cats with his cricket bat!” or “Cover your cats! Githa is carrying a walking stick!”

Who is the man who made this decision? What can we learn from his life and work? In order to be better citizens, we must study this, because it is only through study that we can achieve understanding. The first and important point to clarify is that he is not the younger brother of Govind Nihalani and is in fact in no way related to him. Govind Nihalani rarely mentions this, but we felt that he would want you to know. What else do we know about him? Since he has been much in the news, it is important to separate fact from fiction. For example, it is completely untrue that the prime minister tried to throttle him with his bare hands after watching his tribute film, which most people mistook for a parody, which is why Sooraj Barjatya is also upset, because it was never his intention to ridicule the prime minister. All he wanted was to be a vehicle for his chest. Instead, it’s now only a matter of time before he is raided by the Enforcement Directorate, because the chest never forgets. But all this is beside the point. The point is that this man is guiding us. Let us explore him.

First, let us look at his work. This is very rewarding. By doing so, we immediately gain better understanding of kissing guidelines. From a swimming pool sequence in his motion picture Aag Ka Gola, we are able to see that kissing for more than 20 seconds is in fact permissible, but only if both parties are in a swimming pool, with at least 50% of their bodies under water. There may have been other lessons to draw from this scene, but we were unable to tell, as it features Archana Pooran Singh in a bikini.

Basic drives

Which brings us to sexual activity. Our government in particular and society at large are much concerned about sexual activity. The Chief Censor’s work provides us guidelines about this as well. In the super-hit motion picture Aankhen which he produced, we see two gents and two ladies enter a car. We see the car bouncing up and down. We see the two gents come out with satisfied grins, while the two ladies stand on the street, adjusting their clothing. From this we can gather that it is OK for us to publicly show what happens before sex, and after sex, but not the activity itself. However, the results of the activity, such as a bouncing car, may be shown. This is a very complex and nuanced guideline, which needs to be carefully appreciated.

While we do not sing to people often in real life, sometimes the occasion may arise. While singing, there is always a danger that lyrically we may go too far. In this respect, we learn much from his song Khadahai! Khadahai! (“It is standing! It is standing!”), in which a gent informs a lady of his situation, followed by subsequent requests to “open the door”. It tells us that while we may discuss the condition of our equipment, we should not over-specify regarding usage. Also, like the Indus Valley script, we are gradually deciphering the code. We have already seen that we have to use the word “cats” to describe the naughty bits of men folk. For women, the term is “door”. So whatever else happens, if our nation is to be uplifted morally, we need to keep cats away from doors.

The learnings

What else can we learn from him? Part of his message can be understood from his work, as listed above. More can be learnt from his sayings. Fortunately for us, he has never been reluctant to speak. When confronted with the special film that he made for the prime minister, he has said, "If this is chamchagiri, I am proud of it." He has also said that “India is a land where people put Ganga jal on their face”. From this we can see that we must be extremely respectful and bathe in holy water.

However, his most recent guidelines are a matter of concern. In response to criticism of his kissing rules, he has said, “This means you want to do sex in your house with your door open. And show people the way you are doing sex.” Earlier, another member of the censor board has suggested that Karan Johar should do sex in front of his mother. This is naturally leading to some confusion. It contradicts earlier analysis. Should we not be doing sex inside bouncing cars? Are we now required to do it publicly? Is this compulsory, or an optional extra? Patriotic citizens are on the horns of a dilemma. However, in the interests of good governance, and preventing police raids, you should probably keep a light on in the bedroom window, and make sure the curtains are flung wide.

Shovon Chowdhury’s new novel, Murder with Bengali Characteristics, is set in a future Calcutta occupied by China.

This piece was first published on Indian Cultural Forum.

Corrections and clarifications: This article has been edited to emphasise that Pahlaj Nihalani is not related to Govind Nihalani, leave alone being his younger brother, as erroneously reported and repeated in an earlier version of this article.

Links for Further Study (Guarantees minimum one hour of entertainment)

1) Govinda to romance 18-year-old girl in next film.

2) Bigger the 'packet', more the ratings, comments Pahlaj Nihalani. 

3) 'Producers should not make controversial movies'

4) I'll change the way movies are censored: Pahlaj Nihalani

5) Pahlaj Nihalani: Living in glass houses and throwing stones at others.

6) Why new censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani should ban his own films first.

7) An open letter to censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani. 

8)  Why Pahlaj Nihalani's video about PM Modi might secretly be a spoof.

9) Pahlaj Nihalani says his video tribute to PM Modi is being respected like the National Anthem.

10) Pahlaj Nihalani’s video for PM Modi is a cringe-fest to behold.

11) You want to ‘do sex with your door open’: Pahlaj Nihalani on censor board cuts in Spectre.