Udta Punjab is not maligning the state, High Court to Censor Board

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Bombay High Court has described the hue and cry over Udta Punjab by Censor Board obnoxious.

It said, “We should avoid this as responsible people. Present generation wants something more mature. But you say ‘no’.”

Anurag Kashyap’s production house, Phantom Films, has moved court against the cuts suggest by the Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani.

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Among the infamous 89: names of eight cities including the states name – Punjab – anywhere in the film and words like “MLA”, “MP”, “election” and “Parliament”.

“Film’s title has that state’s name. The story is in that state and it depicts the people from that state,” the division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Shalini Phansalkar said.

The CBFC’s lawyer responded that the state should be projected correctly.

“But is Punjab only known for drugs?” NDTV quoted the Bench as saying.

The judges also pointed out that there was another film on Moga – one of the cities which the Censor wants deleted – which depicted it as a cancer town. “That does not denigrate or bring it in disrepute.”

Justice Dharmadhikari compared ‘Udta Punjab’ with another film released earlier titled “Go, Goa, Gone” and said in that movie the state of Goa was shown as a place where people go to socialise in parties and also take banned drugs.

“If Goa can be shown as a place of drug abuse in that film, what is wrong if Punjab is shown in Udta Punjab?” asked the Judge.

According to PTI, the Censor Board lawyer argued that the order of the Revising Committee suggesting 13 changes in the film was not arbitrary and the committee had applied its mind while making these suggestions.

“We are objecting to the reference of Punjab and its people and the language used in the film”, the lawyer argued.

Hearing the arguments, the court said that it was not satisfied with the first two suggestions made by the Censor Board about removing references to places in that state such as Chandigarh, Amritsar, Tarantaran, Jashanpura, Moga and Ludhiana.

On other suggestions of Revising Committee, the Censor Board lawyer said he would make submissions tomorrow, following which the court deferred the matter.

However, Ravi Kadam, Counsel for Phantom Films, the production company of Anurag Kashyap, said the impugned order was issued without any application of mind and was arbitrary.

“Punjab is an integral part of the concept and cannot be deleted from the film”, he said.

The judge also noted that such signboards were shown in several movies.

“War films have been made in our country. The country is known to have gone through wars and this is historically established and borders have been shown. The movie is not making a reference to a foreign country,” he was quoted by Indian Express.

“You are saying don’t show a board. What is the logical reasoning? Is it provocative and are you suggesting it is offensive?” the bench asked.

The bench observed, “The title of the film has Punjab. It depicts a story of the state and the people. For one visual, you cannot delete an entire scene… It is a duty…to expose the problem. As if the state is only known for drugs and nothing else.

“It is not that nobody has made a reference to this in the past and that the drug menace has not been a subject matter of any celluloid film.”

The court also said removing words such as election, MLA and MP did not make sense. “In our times, there were names with these words in it like Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avatar,” Justice Dharmadhikari said, adding that none of these words could be used to malign people or the state.

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