Censor Board Cracks Down on Udta Punjab, Bollywood Tweets Anger
NEW DELHI: Udta Punjab has run into further trouble with the Censor Board that wants all references to Punjab to be removed, and has refused to give it a certificate. The Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt starrer is based on the drug addiction problem in Punjab.
Earlier the Censors wanted 89 cuts in the movie but the new demand of dropping all references from Punjab has stunned the film industry.Filmmaker Karan Johar tweeted "#UdtaPunjab speaks of the reality of our times....censoring reality amounts to delusion.....the fraternity has to stand by what's right!!".
This decision by CBFC is controversial as it comes before the elections in Punjab. The ruling Akali Dal with the BJP in alliance clearly does not want to face any complications at a time when the Assembly polls are just nine months away. Shiromani Akali Dal's MLA Khem Karan Virsa Singh Valtoha said that the film is an outcome of a trend to defame Punjab and its youth.
The drug based drama directed by Abhishek Chaubey which was scheduled to release on June 17 has now been placed in a precarious position by the CBFC for its depiction of drug abuse and use of offensive words. Although the makers are planning to challenge the Censor Boards judgement, CBFC seems to be unaffected by the outrage. Amid all this controversy the movie is getting huge support from the public as well as the film fraternity.
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap who is among the co producers of the film expressed his anger on twitter "It's my fight Vs a dictatorial man sitting there operating like an oligarch in his constituency of censor board, that's my North Korea" tweeted the filmmaker. He further added that there is no film more honest than Udta Punjab and any person or party opposing it is actually guilty of promoting drugs.
This is not the first time that a movie is censored by the CBFC. Earlier movies like Angry Indian Goddesses and Madras Cafe were also passed with several cuts. The CBFC decision to censor Udta Punjab has re-stoked the debate of freedom, with CBFC member Ashoke Pandit tweeting in a series:
I question the intelligence of the committee which has given this judgement of removing the word 'Punjab' from #UdtaPunjab.#CBFC
I as a #CBFC member appeal to the #Chairman to take a call as a filmmaker & protect the FOE of a filmmaker.#UdtaPunjab
Pandit in fact went on to say that if the present censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani had been in position earlier even issued based films like Bombay and Salaam Bombay would not have been release
Ashoke Pandit @ashokepandit Going by Nihalani's logic, issue based classics wud've nvr released: #SalamBombay (Prostitution),#Bombay(Riots),#NewDelhiTimes (Corruption)
Pandit further told ANI. "If there are 89 cuts in #UdtaPunjab, then the film loses its impression, basic ethos. You cannot massacre the film by giving so many cuts and saying that you cannot use the name of a state. All limits crossed, people will laugh at us that you can't even take the name of a place? Not a single board member who is based in Mumbai 100 percent will be involved in this mockery. Confident that this decision is taken by our chairman, we've been fighting against diktats of chairman. Decision of not allowing the word Punjab condemnable, mockery of freedom of expression of a filmmaker.”
The anger in Bollywood was reflected also in a tweet from director Karan Johan who said, “#UdtaPunjab speaks of the reality of our times....censoring reality amounts to delusion.....the fraternity has to stand by what's right!!”
Hansal Mehta was even more direct with: “What is this I'm hearing about #UdtaPunjab? Makes me very, very angry.” And again, “Can the truth defame a state? #UdtaPunjabCensored”