Pahlaj Nihalani, whose two-and-half-year tenure as India's censor board chief has been mired in controversy due to his run-ins with a number of film directors, has been sacked.
He has been replaced by well-known adman and lyricist Prasoon Joshi while actress Vidya Balan joins the censor board.
The recent controversies involving Nihalani related to insistence on multiple cuts in Bollywood director Madhur Bhandarkar's film "Indu Sarkar" which depicts the emergency and his refusal to certify "Lipstick Under My Burkha" which explores female sexuality and contains sexual scenes, abusive words and audio pornography.
“Lipstick Under My Burkha” director Alankrita Shrivastava won her case after challenging the censor board at an appeal tribunal.
His latest faux pas was to insist on bleeping words like "cow" and “Hindu India” in a documentary on leading economist and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.
Last year, Nihalani's board had ordered 89 cuts and told producers to remove all references to Punjab, elections and political parties in Shahid Kapoor-starrer "Udta Punjab", a film on the state's narcotics problem. The high court had then restored all references barring one and advised the censor board "not to kill creativity".
Prasoon Joshi, 45, is one of Hindi film industry's leading lyricists and screenwriters and twice won the National Award For Best Lyrics for “Maa” in Taare Zameen Par (2008) and “Bolo Na” in Chittagong (2012). He has also penned lyrics for superhit “Rang De Basanti” and “Neerja.”
Joshi has written the lyrics for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's anthem for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and won prestigious Padma Sri title of the Government of India in 2015.