After two-and-a-half controversial years as the chief of the central board for film certification, Pahlaj Nihalani was sacked from his position on Friday. He will be replaced by adman and lyricist Prasoon Joshi, who has written songs for numerous films, including Rang De Basanti (2006) and Taare Zameen Par (2007). Joshi also wrote the screenplay for Rakesh Mehra’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013).
Alongside Joshi, 12 new members have been added to the CBFC board: Vidya Balan, Vivek Agnihotri, Gautami Tadimalla, Narendra Kohli, Naresh Chandra Lal, Neil Herbert Nongkynrih, Waman Kendre, T S Nagabharana, Ramesh Patange, Vani Tripati Tikoo, Jeevitha Rajasekhar and Mihir Bhuta.
“I have believed that rights and responsibilities are better served with constructive contribution,” Joshi told the Press Trust of India in response to his appointment. “One hopes to make a positive difference with the guidance and support of respected minds.”
Joshi is the CEO of the advertising company McCann Worldgroup India and chairperson of McCann Asia Pacific. He said his advertising job would remain his first priority. “Over the years, I have always extended my talent and experience to societal causes,” Joshi said. “Professionally, all through, McCann has been my first priority and continues to be so.”
Joshi, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015, has a markedly different view on censorship than his predecessor. In a 2015 interview, he said that there should be no censorship, and that audiences should have the opportunity to choose what they want to watch. “I feel censorship is a very sensitive topic,” Joshi said. “I believe that ideally we should have a society where no censorship is required.”
Like Nihalani, Joshi too has been closely associated with the Bhartiya Janata Party. The man behind popular slogans such as Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola, Joshi wrote a song for the Narendra Modi government’s Swachh Bharat Mission. He also worked on BJP leader LK Advani’s prime ministerial campaign during the 2009 Lok Sabha election and coined the slogan Majboot Neta, Nirnayak Sarkar.