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Bombay HC indicates that it will allow Udta Punjab to release with just one cut 


The bench, headed by Justice Dharmadhikari, took CBFC to task for its objections and attempts at censoring the film. The final order will come on 13 June. 

Shriram Iyengar

If the CBFC had any hope that the courts would side with them in the battle against the filmmakers of the controversial Udta Punjab, they were put to rest today. The bench, headed by Justice Dharmadhikari, took the board to task for trying to censor the film and raising trivial objections. 

The filmmakers had approached the Bombay HC on 8 June after being denied a certificate for the release of the film. The court had directed the Central Board of Film Certification to provide a detailed explanation for their reasons behind the objections in the film today. The CBFC had asked the filmmakers for cuts in 13 categories in the film. 

The issue snowballed into a battle of words between CBFC chief, Pahlaj Nihalani, and co-producer of the film, Anurag Kashyap, as the team of Udta Punjab involved the media over the issue. 

As the board's lawyer tried to put forth their stand, the judges took them to task. Questioning the attempt to censor the film, the judge asked, "CBFC should only certify, not censor. The public is the biggest censor. CBFC doesn't need to censor."

He also added that the audiences of today are more discerning and capable of judging the film's content themselves. On the question of drug abuse in the film, the judges asked if the film glorified drugs. When the CBFC counsel answered that it did, the bench questioned why the board had not banned the film instead of trying to censor it. The bench also observed that the idea of 'censor' board was a creation of the media, and needs to be stopped. 

One interesting point of the entire argument was when the board's counsel suggested that the film, although submitted as a Hindi language film, had both Hindi and Punjabi dialogues in it. To this the bench remarked " Are you saying you ordered cuts without understanding?" 

In its questioning of the board, the judge sided with the film industry by saying, "We want creative people to survive and the industry to survive. You have to show the reality." The judge also expressed disappointment with the functioning of the CBFC. He said, "Has CBFC discharged its functions from 1952 onwards with utmost care? We are fed up of all this." 

The judgement of the High Court has been deferred to Monday, 13 June. However, the bench has indicated that it will set aside 12 cuts and allow the film to be released with just 1 single cut. 

For now, the filmmakers, and the film industry, can rejoice in a minor victory over the 'censor' board.