Kushan Nandy’s Babumoshai Bandookbaak is the latest film to be subjected to numerous censor cuts. The Central Board of Film Certification’s examining committee issued 48 cuts to Nandy’s film, which is about a small-town contract killer and contains profanity and intimate scenes. Nandy also claimed that an examining committee member berated his producer Kiran Shroff for making a movie with explicit themes, and that censor board chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani told him to be grateful that the movie was being certified at all rather than being banned.

The movie stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Anil Singh, Divya Dutta and Bidita Bag, and the scheduled release date is August 25.

Nandy held a press conference along with members of the Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association in Mumbai on Wednesday to take a stand against Nihalani’s repeated attacks on creative expression.

Besides Nandy, Shroff, Siddiqui and Bag, the speakers included censor board member and Nihalani opponent Ashoke Pandit and directors who have endured censorship, among them Abhishek Chaubey, Alankrita Shrivastava, Sudhir Mishra, Anubhav Sinha, Rahul Dholakia and producer Madhu Mantena.

Nihalani has denied Nandy’s allegations, and claimed to the DNA newspaper that Nandy tried to intimidate him by using his political connections. Nandy’s father is the poet, producer and former Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Pritish Nandy.

Nandy has previously directed 88 Antop Hill (2003) and Hum Dum (2005) and the television shows Thriller at 10 and Saturday Suspense. He told Scroll.in that he would move the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal, the highest body of appeal within CBFC, to get Babumoshai Bandookbaaz cleared.

Pahlaj Nihalani says that you are lying about the incident with your producer and that you threatened him with your political connections.
Pahlaj Nihalani is the one who is lying. I told him about the matter with Shroff when we met. There were at least eight people, including me and Shroff, in the room when it happened. There should be a recording camera or such to keep track of what goes on.

And what political connections? Nihalani is the one with any kind of political backing. I am not going to take this lying down. We are going to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.

Babumoshai Bandookbaaz.

What exactly happened?
We went with our film to the examining committee. They gave us an Adult certificate, which we were fine with. Then they issued 48 cuts and asked us to argue against each cut if we thought it was wrong. So they began reading out the cuts. I kept protesting. But they were not ready to listen. They kept interrupting me and asking, “So, you will go to the revising committee?”

I said, give us the Adult certificate, but why the cuts? They said, children will sneak into the hall. How is that my problem? If kids are seeing adult films in theatres, that is a law and order problem.

The censor board has cleared swear words even after Nihalani took over.
That’s what I told him, that you passed it in so many films. But he is an extremely arrogant man. He doesn’t listen. It was a one-sided conversation. The first thing he told me was that, “Be grateful that we have not banned your film.” How can he tell me what to make and what not to make?

In the Cinematograph Act, there is at least a rule for scenes showing consumption of alcohol and tobacco in 2.VII. But I don’t know how they can decide that “chutiyapa” can be a problem? In the context of the film, the word means foolishness. It is nothing vulgar either.

Is it that the committee members don’t understand the context within which profanity is used, or are they pretending not to?
They purposely don’t want to understand. There are certain powers because of which Nihalani is in place as the censor board chairman. Obviously, there’s a power that supports him silently, which is why he keeps dictating matters around. He is destroying all kinds of creative liberty. The industry needs to gear up against him.

You did get a lot of support at the press conference in Mumbai.
It was very nice to see such a massive show of support. I got numerous calls from people who said they wanted to be with me but they were not able to make it for various reasons.

How was ‘Babumoshai Bandookbaaz’ conceived?
The idea was to make a film on a small-time contract killer who is just like any other normal guy. His profession is the only thing that makes him stand out. His trials, tribulations and revenge form the crux of the story.

I have always wanted to work with Nawaz, and I narrated the script to him. Since he is from Budhana [in Uttar Pradesh] himself, Nawaz took a liking to it. We shot in real locations and avoided typical Bollywood-ish glamour. There’s an understanding that you have to leave your brains at home while watching Bollywood commercial films. This is not that kind of a film.

Barfani, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz.