“If there is some sexual interaction between us, amounting to or not amounting to full intercourse, you are absolved of all legal charges,” says Sejal (Anushka Sharma) to Harry (Shah Rukh Khan) in a mini-trailer of their upcoming film Jab Harry Met Sejal. After facing the censor board’s wrath over the usage of the word for sex, Khan clarified that the film was yet to be sent to the censors.

Directed by Imtiaz Ali, the August 4 release has been rolling out mini-trailers. The trailer featuring the offensive word has been aired on television despite being uncensored, inviting the threat of “serious action” from Nihalani. In an interview with the television channel Mirror Now, Nihalani declared that he would clear the word in the film and the trailers if the channel got one lakh votes from the public in its favour. The online poll on Twitter is now looking at over 51,000 votes, with three days left.

Nihalani’s challenge clearly violates his brief as CBFC chairperson. “Let me hear one lakh people say that a star like Shah Rukh Khan, with a family viewership and a huge fan following of kids, talking about casual sex with his heroine, is now part of modern India’s progressive culture,” he told the Deccan Chronicle newspaper. “We’ll not only restore the word ‘intercourse’, but we’ll also allow lead actors to have full-fledged sex on screen if they want.” Nihalani also reportedly said that he would not settle for votes from unmarried people, and people younger than 36 years of age.

Khan had his own witty take on the issue. “I am below 18, so I can’t vote,” he said at a press gathering on Monday. “I don’t need to say this but Imtiaz, myself, Anushka and whoever is a part of this film will never be disrespectful through our films...When they see the whole film, they will understand the context and hopefully everything will be okay.”

When Harry Met Sejal (2017).