'Udta Punjab' Makers Move Bombay HC Against Censor Board

08/06/2016 1:37 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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The makers of the upcoming drama Udta Punjab, which is in the centre of a swirling controversy with the Central Board Of Film Certification over its depiction of the drug problem in the state, have moved Bombay High Court.

The upcoming film's release date of June 17 seems to be in jeopardy owing to the fact that they don't have a censor certificate yet. According to reports, the Board's Revising Committee has asked for a staggering 89 cuts in the film (many of them pertain to abusive language and drug use) and asked to drop references to 'Punjab' in the film.

In an interview with Economic Times, CBFC Chairman Pahlaj Nihalani asserted that the film "cannot be cleared the way it is" because it shows the entire state and its people "in a bad light" — it violates the section of the Cinematograph Act He further said: "There is no pressure on us. They can go to the tribunal or court now. Our only concern is the entire movie is completely based on Punjab. All the characters are negative. It will hurt the whole community."

However, the makers of the film — Ekta Kapoor's Balaji Motion Pictures Pvt Ltd and Phantom Films, run by filmmakers Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, and Vikas Bahl, as well as producer Madhu Mantena — claim that they haven't received anything in writing from the RC specifically, which they can use as a 'grievance' and take it to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, a statutory body that resolves disputes between filmmakers and the Board. Sources close to the makers say that this is a way for the CBFC to stall the release of the film so that the makers get disheartened and accept the RC's decision.

In light of this, the decision to approach Bombay HC to resolve this dispute makes sense. According to a Mumbai Mirror report, despite Nihalani's own son Chirag (he is a creative producer at Balaji) requesting his father to release the letter demanding the cuts, the CBFC has been holding back, leading to delays that are costing the production house roughly Rs 1 crore a day.

Udta Punjab, directed by Abhishek Chaubey, stars Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt, and Diljit Dosanjh.

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