Does India need movie censorship anymore? Udta Punjab wins legal battle against Censor Board, releases worldwide today
Hindi movie Udta Punjab, which was locked in a bitter row with the Censor board and its chairmen Pahlaj Nihalani will release as scheduled this Friday, on 17th June. The movie is released worldwide today after a vacation bench of the Supreme Court Thursday declined to stall the release of the film, which highlights Punjab’s drug problem.
The film started a huge movement among the creative people of India as well as the general public, when Central Board of Film Certification of India stalled the release of the film citing that the film was too mature for the general audience. On 9 June 2016, the Censor Board came out with a list of 94 cuts and 13 pointers prior to the film’s release. One of the pointers even included deleting the names of cities in Punjab and changing the name of a dog in the film.
It is a dark day for freedom of expression and creativity in the country, Mukesh Bhatt said.
Many prominent personalities of the Bollywood came together with the Udta Punjab team – director Abhishek Chaubey, co-producer Anurag Kashyap, producer Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor, actors Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, arguing that this will completely limit the creativity and freedom of speech and make a way for the Censor Board and the politicians to influence the creative crowd.
The film got the support of several filmmakers, including Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt, Ram Gopal Varma, Aamir Khan, Imtiaz Ali, Varun Dhawan and Mukesh Bhatt. Co-producer Anurag Kashyap blamed Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani, calling him ‘oligarch’ and ‘dictator’ and that it was like living in North Korea.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed similar petitions seeking a stay on the film’s release. The film was cleared to be released with only 1 scene deleted.
On 15 June 2016, some parts of the film were leaked online. It was alleged to be leaked by some Censor Board member. Central Board of Film Certification has refused any involvement in the leak. The producers of the film had filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime cell in Mumbai.
If CBFC has leaked Udta Punjab, it’s a big shame – actor Aamir Khan said.
Hours before it hit theatres, producer Anurag Kashyap made an appeal in a Facebook post.
All downloaders of Udta Punjab, I urge, wait till Saturday till you decide to not pay for the film, don’t download and share, curb the curiosity for two more days. Thank you for reading this, wrote Mr Kashyap, who fought a hard battle to release his film.
The huge win of Udta Punjab in the legal war against the CBFC poses a serious question to all Indians – Does Indian audience need the Censor board to decide what can be watched? Or is this the start of the end of content censorship in India ? Please express your view in the comment box below.