Udta Punjab: Bombay High Court 'Cuts' The Censor Board To Size, Sets Aside 12 Cuts Suggested By CBFC

10/06/2016 3:01 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
MUMBAI, INDIA - JUNE 8: (From left) Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and director Abhishek Chaubey at a press conference organised by The Indian Film & Television Directors Association to express solidarity with the team of Udta Punjab on June 8, 2016 in Mumbai, India. Udta Punjab is slated for release on June 17. The Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) headed by Pahlaj Nihalani has now held back the films certification, demanding 89 cuts in total and removal of any references to the state of Punjab, politics or elections, in general. (Photo by Satish Bate/ Hindustan Times)

The Bombay High Court has indicated it will allow the release of the film 'Udta Punjab', that allegedly portrays the state's drug problem, with only one cut, out of the 13 the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) suggested, paving the way for its smooth launch on 17 June. However, the court has reserved its final order for Monday, 13 June.

The producers have agreed to disclaimers that suggest that the "characters in the film do not support the use of cuss words" in the expletive-laden film. It's a victory of sorts for producers Phantom Films, which is locked in a legal battle with the CBFC over the use of the state's name in the film, among many other things.

Justice Dharamadhikari quashed the arguments made by the CBFC counsel, who said that they were told the film was in Hindi but it also has a fair amount of spoken Punjabi, to which the judge said, "Are you saying you ordered cuts without understanding the language?"

The CBFC further argued that the film was laden with expletives which even 'children' are now exposed to. Quashing this too, the court said that people born in the 80s are 'direct,' 'open' and 'mature.' The court also emphasized that multiplex-going audiences are discerning enough and that the CBFC had no right to decide what is 'right' or 'wrong.'

The court said, "If the film is only filled with expletives then the audience won't watch the film. Why are you giving the film so much publicity?"

When the judge asked Phantom's advocate Ravi Kadam why the makers can't beep out the words, he argued, "This is a realistic film. That's how people talk in these parts."

Furthermore, in a show of sheer dynamism, the court stated, "The film industry is not made of glass that you need to 'handle with care.' If you ask for so many cuts, then what is the point? The audience knows. Has CBFC discharged its functions from 1952 onwards with utmost care? We are fed up of all this."

The court further said that the CBFC's job is not to censor but to certify. "The public is the biggest censor," it said, adding, "We want creative people to survive and the industry to survive. You have to show the reality."

The Bombay High Court agreed to the CBFC's demand that a scene in which Shahid Kapoor is seen urinating into a crowd be removed. The arguments were concluded today in the hearing of the case that has united the highly fractious film fraternity of Mumbai, with actors, directors, screenwriters and producers protesting what they see as a curbing of the creative freedom of filmmakers by India's film certification board which also act as censors.

An advocate for Phantom Films told HuffPost India that they were satisfied with today's proceedings and that it was the 'step in the right direction.' Said the advocate, "It's a happy moment for us, but we will wait for Monday's verdict before celebrating."

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