The controversial drug-themed film Udta Punjab will finally be released across 2000 screens in India today, capping weeks of tense courtroom drama over cuts suggested by the censor board, even as the head of the Central Board of Film Certification in India, Pahlaj Nihalani, dismissed as "baseless" allegation that the CBFC was involved in the leak of a copy of the film online.
Investigators said they have obtained "some leads" in the leakage of the film in the centre of a debate on creative freedom of filmmakers. A senior police officer told PTI that the producer lodged a complaint with the cyber crime cell in this matter.
"This is baseless, we abide by rules," the Indian Express quoted Nihalani as saying on Thursday.
"A team of our cyber cell experts is working on the case. Very soon we will find out the people responsible for illegally releasing the video online. Legal action will be initiated against whosoever is found guilty," Mumbai Police spokesperson Ashoke Dudhe told PTI.
(Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor gestures as he poses during a news conference for his upcoming film 'Udta Punjab' in Mumbai on June 14, 2016. PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)
Dudhe said a case under relevant sections of the Companies Act and IT Act has been registered. "We are investigating the case as per the legal provisions. We have got some leads, but there is no suspect (identified) yet," he said.
Meanwhile, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap has written an appeal on Facebook, asking audiences not to download the leaked copy of the film on torrent before Friday.
"This time its a different fight, its a fight against censorship and if you are that audience that always downloads a film, then I won't ask you to not do that, please do, but wait till Saturday which is the day you would normally download a film. Piracy happens because of lack of access and in a world of free internet, I do not have a problem with it," Kashyap wrote.
The film stars among others, Alia Bhatt, Diljit Dosanjh, and Kareena Kapoor.
The Bombay High Court on June 13 cleared the decks for the release of the film with only one cut, a scene in which Kapoor is urinating, while the Punjab government said they had no objection to the movie's release. The court also directed the filmmaker to make additions to the disclaimer to the effect that the movie, its characters and the filmmakers do not promote the use of drugs and abusive language, and the film is only attempting to depict the reality of drug abuse.
The Supreme Court also refused to entertain an NGO's plea seeking a stay on the release of film, and asked it to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which is seized of the matter.
On Thursday, the NGO moved the Supreme Court to stall the screening of the film, while another plea by it had prompted the Delhi High Court to direct the producer to modify the promos by adhering to the Bombay High Court order. The plea filed before the apex court bench sought a direction to restrain the screening of the movie on the ground that it depicted Punjab in a “bad light”.
(With PTI inputs)