11 knockout blows delivered to CBFC by the Bombay High Court

The filmmakers of Udta Punjab and the Central Board of Film Certification met at the Bombay HC today over the decision to censor the film. The Court dealt some serious blows to CBFC's arguements. 

Shriram Iyengar

The Bombay High Court bench, led by Justice Dharmadhikari, dealt a serious blow to the reputation of the Central Board of Film Certification today. After the filmmakers of Udta Punjab approached the High Court regarding the censorship issue, the court had asked the CBFC to provide a detailed reasoning of the cuts. 

As the CBFC's counsel began describing the reasons, the bench began poking holes in their argument with apparent ease. 

1. One of the first reasons that the court took the board to task on was their attempt to censor the film.

Court to CBFC: Your job is to certify. The word 'censor' is a media creation. You should only certify films. The public is the biggest censor.

2. When the CBFC counsel pointed out that the film had both Hindi and Punjabi dialogues.

Court: Are you saying you ordered cuts without understanding?

3. On CBFC's objection to drug abuse shown in the film. 

Court: If you claim the film glorifies drug abuse, why have you not banned the film?

4. Defending the film industry's need to be independent.

Court: Film industry is not made of glass that you need to "handle with care." If you ask for so many cuts, what is the point of making the film? The audience can choose what it wants to watch. 

5. On the CBFC's nature to cut films. 

Court: Give the film a certificate. What is the need for cuts? 

6. On the freedom of choice.

Court: Whether it is TV or cinema, let the public see it. They have the right to make the choice. The audience is mature enough to decide for themselves. 

7. On CBFC's objection to 'bad language' in the film. 

Audience is very open minded these days. Films do not get ruined because of their language. 

8. On the functioning of the CBFC. 

Has the CBFC discharged its functions from 1952 onwards with utmost care? We are starting to get fed up of all this.

9. On the oppression of creative freedom of the filmmakers. 

Court: We want creative people to survive and the industry to survive. You have to show the reality.

10. CBFC lawyer's objection to the dialogue: "Punjab ki Zameen banjar to aulad kanjar." He said: I'm embarrassed to explain 'kanjar'. Punjab's so fertile, why are they saying this?

Court: Audiences are direct and open today. People born after 1980 are very mature. So why are you worried?

11. On CBFC's handling of the entire issue 

Court: If the film is filled with expletives, the public won't watch it. Stop giving unnecessary publicity to the film. 

The court has agreed to a single cut in the film, that of Tommy peeing on the audience at a concert. Other than this, there are no indications of any other cuts in the film. Reports suggest that the judgement on Monday will allow the film to be released without any major 'censoring'. 

The CBFC, on the other hand, will go home with some serious damage to its credibility in the film industry.