Cuts On Freedom Of Speech and Expression? – Udta Punjab

Cuts On Freedom Of Speech and Expression? – Udta Punjab

BY RAJAT MOHANTA

Udta Punjab (English: Punjab on a High) is an upcoming Indian crime thriller film based on drugs written and directed by Abhishek Chaubey. Produced by Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor under their banner Balaji Motion Pictures in association with Phantom Films, it features Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh in the lead roles.

As we all know The Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) has now held back the film’s certification, demanding 89 cuts in total and removal of any references to the state of Punjab, Name of a drug, politics or elections, in general.

“Like why dude? Why no references? What is the need to cut down the society’s mirror reality from a movie?”

Initially CBFC cited 40 cuts in the film, owing to explicit language and drug consumption.
Following this, Phantom Films approached the tribunal with the hope that the cuts won’t be recommended by giving an ‘A’ certificate to the film.
The revising committee wasn’t satisfied. So, they went one step further and asked for the use of ‘Punjab’ in the title to be removed and recommended 89 cuts.

“Wait what? You CBFC guys can’t even handle ‘A’ rated film?
Go ahead. Remove Punjab from Udta Punjab. Yeah, then nobody will ever come to know which state is shown in the film. CBFC is surely Genius.”

They also want the film to be set in a fictional land rather than a real state. Reportedly, Pahlaj Nihalani has a problem with the “portrayal of reality in the film.”

“Why does every chairman of CBFC is always all set impose his own sensibilities on movies made by other people at the cost of cutting down Freedom Of Speech and Expression with their big scissors?”

A report submitted to Arun Jaitley, the Minister for Information & Broadcasting, on April 26, recommends that the “CBFC should only be a film certification body whose scope should be restricted to categorizing the suitability of the film to audience groups on the basis of age and maturity.”
And According to the Benegal report, CBFC can only refuse certification on two counts.
I) First, when parts of the film are “against the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence”.
II) Second, when the film crosses the ceiling of the most stringent rating.

“Atleast Benegal committee report is sensible. So it clearly indicates – CBFC is terrible at their jobs. Maybe the government should do a better job in appointing them”

Merely 9 months away from the Assembly Elections the release of Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab is stuck in political controversy. Critics say Udta Punjab, which is based on Punjab’s crucial drug abuse problem and since this drug menace is being used by opposition parties in their campaign against the Punjab’s ruling party the Shrimoni Akali Dal, causing an issue for ruling party. Akali Dal is an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in the state.

“Okay, so did I say government should do a better job at appointing CBFC officials? Well, it looks like Government already did their job good. CBFC officials are already all set to work in favor of government by cutting down our basic right of Freedom Of Speech and Expression by their big official scissors”

Its not only you and me who is upset at the act of CBFC. The Bollywood and other political parties are also raising hands in support of #udtapunjab

• Arjun Kapoor -U know a lot of people in our fraternity speak up for other causes, it’s time we stood up for our own. #UdtaPunjab deserves a proper release
— Arjun Kapoor (@arjunk26) June 7, 2016

• Alia Bhatt quoted Malala.
— Alia Bhatt (@aliaa08) June 7, 2016

• Karan Johar – #UdtaPunjab speaks of the reality of our times….censoring reality amounts to delusion…..the fraternity has to stand by what’s right!!
— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) June 6, 2016

• Farhan Akhtar – Power is the most dangerous addiction of all & someone in the CBFC seems to be tripping hard on Lassi in the Sky with Diamonds. #UdtaPunjab
— Farhan Akhtar (@FarOutAkhtar) June 7, 2016

• Harbhajan Singh – #Udtapunjab known for better things like love,peace,bhaichara,culture,respect,freedom fighters,spotsmans,music,I m a proud PUNJABI nd INDIAN
— Harbhajan Singh (@harbhajan_singh) June 7, 2016

• Mahesh Bhatt – The Censors says I am the one who says the last sentence on UDTA PUNJAB .The nation can say what it wants our verdict is going to stick.
— Mahesh Bhatt (@MaheshNBhatt) June 7, 2016

• Ram Gopal Varma – Govt which wants to ban Udta Punjab shud realise that by banning a Udta film they actually trying to ban Udta truth
— Ram Gopal Varma (@RGVzoomin) June 6, 2016

• Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi – Punjab has a crippling drug problem. Censoring Udta Punjab will not fix it. The government must accept the reality and find solutions.

• CBFC Board member Ashoke Pandit has been vocal about his criticism toward Pahlaj Nihalani.
Rahul Gandhi should google & find out as to how many films have been banned by his family & how they hv treated the #FilmIndustry. #UdtaPunjab
— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) June 7, 2016

• Hansal Mehta -What is this I’m hearing about #UdtaPunjab? Makes me very, very angry.
— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) June 6, 2016
Can the truth defame a state? #UdtaPunjabCensored
— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) June 6, 2016
Delusion or collusion? Why is the establishment so scared of films that mirror reality? #UdtaPunjabCensored
— Hansal Mehta (@mehtahansal) June 6, 2016

• Nikhil Advani – Are we (censor board) not reading the disclaimer at the beginning of films. It’s fictional na? Hmmm.., maybe it isn’t? #UdtaPunjabCensored
— Nikkhil Advani (@nikkhiladvani) June 7, 2016

• Soha Ali Khan – Anyone who says that drugs are not a problem in punjab is either unaware,complicit or has malafide intention #UdtaPunjab @_phoenix_fire_ ??
— soha ali khan (@sakpataudi) June 6, 2016

• Shahid Kapoor – Overwhelmed with all the support #UdtaPunjab #freedomofexpression #drugsdimaadi
— Shahid Kapoor (@shahidkapoor) June 7, 2016

• Sunil Jakhar, Congress MLA and a former leader of opposition says, “This is the harsh reality of the state as well as the country. The Prime Minister himself referred to this problem in his weekly radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat‘. You cannot hide the truth.” Jakhar adds that instead of coming down hard on the movie makers, the government should come down hard on the drug dealers in Punjab.

• Our delhi government The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) says the Akalis do not want to be exposed and therefore, they are insisting on the large number of cuts and the change of the title of the movie. “This is just an attempt by the Akalis to browbeat the artists who are trying to convey a message regarding the drugs problem of Punjab. Rather than stopping the movie from being screened they should realise that it will help percolate the message of fight against drugs. The state is in a bad position not only with respect to drugs but on all fronts, so impeding the release of a movie is not going to help the party in power,” says Sukhpal Khaira, AAP leader.

CBFC, even the stubborn political parties seems to understand that you CBFC and the ruling party is all set impose your own sensibilities in a movie portraying the mirror reality of your state.
It Our humble is request, Government officials if you really wanna do something for your state then fix the issue of drug menace. Hiding down the harsh reality by imposing cuts on a movie will only be counted as your act cowardliness ”

Now the makers of Udta Punjab are all set to move the Bombay High Court against CBFC’s verdict on Udta Punjab. Phantom and Balaji Motion Pictures (co-producers on the film) have reportedly decided to fight for the release, even at the risk of it being postponed, at the chance Udta Punjab will not see its initial release of 17 June.
“We just hope Bombay High Court gives verdict in favor of Udta Punjab protecting our Freedom Of Speech and Expression and set an example for CBFC and Government”