Mumbai: In a massive turn of events, the Bombay High Court on Monday rapped the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for the cuts it ordered in the film Udta Punjab, saying ‘mere references, signboards of Punjab does not affect sovereignty and integrity of India’.
The movie, that stars Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Punjab superstar Diljit Dosanjh, courted a major controversy after it ran into trouble with the CBFC, with officials reportedly demanding 89 cuts in it and the removal of the word ‘Punjab’ from the title.
After hearing the plea by Udta Punjab’s co-producers Phantom Films and Balaji Telefilms against the cuts suggested by the CBFC, the court has ordered the Board to clear the film with just one cut.
Lawyer Ameet Naik, who represented the Udta Punjab team in court, said, “It is the freedom of creative artists to offend and they should be allowed to offend.”
The Court observed, “Creative freedom envisages presentation and choice of words. Hence the attempt is not to discourage the making of films. Board has to ensure drugs are not glamourised.” The court further added that the CBFC must exercise its powers consistently in consonance with the constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech.
The CBFC had asked for the word “Punjab” to be eliminated from the title and that references to the state should be removed from the film altogether, including a signboard that had the word ‘Punjab’ on it. To that the court said, “The title contains the word Punjab, so there is no need to delete scene of a sign board showing Punjab.”
The Board had also heavily objected to the rampant usage of cuss words in the film. The court observed that adults would not be tempted to use “foul language” simply because they heard it in the movie, so it permitted the film to hit theatres with all the “cuss words” in place.
The court also responded to the CBFC’s demand to delete a visual of a sardarji 'scratching’ his sides, pointing out that the scene does not show the community in bad light. Furthermore, rubbishing the Board’s apprehensions about close-up shots of drugs being injected, the judge said that the sequence does not encourage or glorify drugs.
Another cut demanded by the Board was removing the sentence, ‘Jamin banzar te aulad kanjar’. The court observed that it does not suggest anything about the state and added, “Punjab is a land of warriors, they are not that sensitive.”
However, the judge maintained that the sequence where Shahid Kapoor’s character Tommy Singh urinates in front of a crowd could be done away with, as there is “enough material for the filmmakers to drive home their point even without this scene”.
The court has directed the CBFC to issue certificate in two days. In a strongly worded order, the court to the CBFC, “Do not act like a grandmother. Change as per the times now. The CBFC need not be over-sensitive in the matter of art.”...