Nihalani banned Lipstick Under My Burkha earlier this year.
Prasoon Joshi has been appointed as the head of India’s Central Board of Film Certification, replacing Pahlaj Nihalani.
Since his appointment in 2015, Nihalani has been involved in many controversial decisions, including the banning of Indian drama Lipstick Under My Burkha, and his objection to the word “intercourse” in Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry Met Sejal, starring Shah Rukh Khan.
The censor board ruled that Lipstick Under My Burkha was too “lady oriented” and contained abusive words and audio pornography. However, the filmmakers appealed and the board’s ruling was overturned, enabling the film to be released with some voluntary cuts.
Nihalani also said the word “intercourse” could be reinstated in Jab Harry Met Sejal if 100,000 people voted to keep it in. When the resulting petition sailed past that number of signatures in a short period of time, he started adding conditions about the age and marital status of the voters.
According to an official statement by India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Nihalani has been replaced before the end of his three-year term.
Joshi, a highly-regarded lyricist and screenwriter, is currently CEO of advertising agency McCann Worldgroup India, with additional responsibility as chairman of McCann Asia Pacific. His writing credits include Hindi-language hits Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Delhi-6 and Rang De Basanti.
Other controversial decisions during Nihalani’s tenure include shortening Daniel Craig’s kissing scenes in Spectre; the outright banning of Fifty Shades Of Grey; and granting the equivalent of a PG certificate for The Jungle Book, which was deemed too scary for children.
Among Indian films, an unprecedented 89 cuts were requested for Udta Punjab, a Hindi thriller about the drugs problem in the state of Punjab, which was produced by Phantom Films and Balaji Motion Pictures. However, an Indian court overturned the ruling and the film was released with just one cut.
Nihalani also demanded that the producers of political documentary An Insignificant Man gain written permission from top politicians in India before clearing the film for public release.