by Soheib Ahsan
5:45pm, 12th June, 2016
Thankfully the courts of India is smarter than the bureaucrats. High Court bashed Mr Pahlaj Nihalani and his 89 cuts on the upcoming film Udta Punjab.
‘An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all’ – Oscar Wilde
The journey of good & true cinema is facing uneven resistant from the Censor board current chief. The old school paradox promoter has created enough trouble in a row for many of the good cinema. He prompts direct cut to the reel without seeing the what the subject in cinema is catering. In the world of internet what is censored!
In the mid of April the trailer of an upcoming movie directed by Abhishek Chaubey was released. The trailer made it clear that the movie was about the abundant amount of drug abuse in the state of Punjab and the struggle of authorities to eliminate this drug abuse. Moreover the trailer even revealed the use of many renowned slangs and abuses throughout the movie. The movie is slated for a June 17 release.
In May, the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) demanded as many as 89 cuts in the film. The cuts included censoring and removal of explicit scenes and language, removal of any references to the state of Punjab, politics or elections in general. Pahlaj Nihalani, Chairperson of the CBFC wanted the movie to be set in a fictional land rather than the state of Punjab. This led to a row between Anurag Kashyap, a co-producer of the film and the chairman of CBFC. On June 6, Anurag Kashyap tweeted, ‘There is no film more honest than UDTA PUNJAB and any person or party opposing it is actually GUILTY of promoting drugs.
The controversy took a political twist when Mr. Nihalani claimed that he had heard that Anurag Kashyap had been given money by the AAP to show Punjab in a bad light. AAP leader Ashish Khetan alleged that Mr. Nihalani is close to the BJP and is acting under the direction of the Punjab govt. so that the “reality of BJP’s coalition government in Punjab is not exposed.” On June 7 Anurag Kashyap tweeted, ‘I request Congress, AAP and other political parties to stay out of my battle. It’s my Rights vs. the Censorship. I speak only on my behalf’. With Assembly elections due in Punjab next year the drug abuse in the state has become a major campaign issue for the ruling coalition.
“Mr. Nihalani claimed that he had heard that Anurag Kashyap
had been given money by the AAP to show Punjab in a bad light”
Phantom films, the production and distribution company filed a petition with the Mumbai High Court seeking a copy of the order passed by the censor board’s review committee which suggested many cuts in the movie and even demanded the removal of reference to Punjab in the movie. On the 10th of June the Mumbai High court told the CBFC that their function is to certify movies not censor them. A division bench of Justices S.C. Dharmadhikari and Shalini Phansalkar Joshi said that if people don’t like something they have a remote. They also asked the producers to tone down explicit and vulgar scenes. The producers agreed to remove a scene where actor Shahid Kapoor is shown urinating on a crowd. The review committee stated that, ‘The theme, presentation, language and visuals of the film are not suitable for non-adults.’ The hearing was wrapped up with Mr. Kadam quoting Archibald Cox that, ‘No government must dictate what its people can hear or say. The court posted the case for June 13 for its final verdict.
We all will ask Mr. Pahlaj to review his own films when we meet him next! Uncensored!