007: The name's Bond... James Bond. My latest flick Spectre...
PN: Like hell I care! Aren't you the same guy who goes around snogging skimpily-clad women and groping them as if there's no tomorrow?
007: Err... that's Emraan Hashmi.
PN: (Ignores the reply) And you go around blowing up people and buildings, don't you?
007: Well... occupational hazard.
PN: Not in India, spy kid! “India is a land where people put Ganga jal on their face.”
007: Does it wash away all their sins?
PN: (Ignores the reply again) Spectre, you said? Sounds like an ill-omen... anyway, no cuss words for you and kissing will be like prasad... just to wet the lips, not your appetite! Agreed?
007: What the (beep)!
PN: (Puts tika on Bond's forehead and forces him to touch his feet) Go #SanskariJamesBond... (in)complete your mission. Vijayi bhav!
And with his blessings, 007 broke the internet. Tweets, Facebook statuses, memes and Instagram posts, you name it, and #SanskariJamesBond, and related hashtags like #CBFC, #censorboard and #JamesBond, started trending. In four days, starting November 18, the former hashtag managed to reach 16,82,381 accounts and created 20,78,852 impressions. Even as I write this, the hashtag is being tweeted around five times (unique tweets, mind it) and retweeted 13 times every hour.
No publicity is bad publicity, they say. Spectre, which is heading towards the $550-million mark in collections worldwide, has already raked in Rs 15 crore in two days in India since its release on November 20 (November 19 in some cities). Central Board of Film Certification chief Pahlaj Nihalani can thump his chest and say not only did he 'sanitise' the 24th film of the James Bond franchise to meet the Indian (really?) standards, but also ensured it would laugh all the way to the Indian banks. Sadly, not all under the CBFC roof want to share the credit (or should we say, the blame) for the 'sanitisation programme', as evident by filmmaker and board member Ashoke Pandit's tweets:
Nihalani has been controversy's favourite child ever since he took over the reins of the censor board from Leela Samson, who, along with other members, quit in January this year, citing corruption and interference from the Union government. A vocal member of the Narendra Modi fan club, he produced the “Har Har Modi...” video for the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Incidentally, he is under fire for having brought out a sequel to it—Mera Desh Hai Mahaan—as a tribute to Pradhanmantriji's achievements. The less said about it, the better. The video, I mean.
When it comes to toughness (read thick-skinned), Nihalani can give Bond a run for his pound sterling. From being trolled for the list of cuss words to be avoided in films to being criticised for barring adult-rated films from being aired on television, he has weathered it all. Internet trolls do not affect him. Why? Because a “few thousand people on Twitter don't know what India is”. You are right, Nihalaniji, this is not the India we envisaged.