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Here’s how Bombay High Court dismissed the 12 cuts to Udta Punjab ordered by CBFC


The court came back with some amazing responses for every cut sought by the censor board.

Suparna Thombare

The revising committee of the Central Board of Film Certification last week ordered the producers of Udta Punjab to make 89 cuts in the film, broadly grouped as 13 cuts, for an Adults Only certificate.

The filmmakers decided to approach the Bombay high court against the cuts. In a judgment that is certain to become a landmark in the battle to strengthen freedom of speech in general and filmmakers' creative freedom in particular, a division bench of the high court ordered that the film be passed with just one cut and three disclaimers.

“The larger question is going to the root of Article 19. Udta Punjab deals with the drug problem in the state [of Punjab]. CBFC certifies the film accordingly,” said Justice SC Dharmadhikari, presiding judge on the bench.

Here are the cuts ordered by the CBFC and how the judges quashed them:

Cut 1: Delete Punjab signboard in the beginning.
Court: Decision to remove Punjab violates guidelines. Certification should enable social change.

Cut 2. Delete names of all cities of Punjab wherever they appear in background or in dialogue.
Court: We do not find that the film questions the sovereignty or integrity of India by mentioning the names of cities or referring to a state or by a signpost.

Cuts 3, 4, 5: Delete 'Chittave' and 'Harami' from song number 1, ‘Tom di cock jevhe chitti chitti cock’, and several other abuses throughout the film.
Court: Viewers don't resort to abuse after watching a film. Creative freedom envisages presentation and choice of words. (The judges added a word of caution on the need to use expletives but left it to the discretion of the filmmakers.)

Cut 6: Delete the words election, MP, party from party worker, MLA, Punjab and Parliament.
Court: It does not in any way suggest any specific political parties, names of MPs, elections. It's a fictional story. The film is in no way made keeping the upcoming assembly polls in mind.

Cut 7. Delete scene of Sardar scratching his side.
Court: A scratching Sardar does not show the community in bad light.

Cut 8: Delete all close-up shots of injecting drugs.
Court: These shots do not encourage the use of drugs.

Cut 10: Delete the 'zamneen banjar te aulad kanjar’ dialogue.
Court: It does not suggest anything about the state. Punjab is a land of warriors, they are not that sensitive.

Cut 11: Delete Jackie Chan as the name of a dog.
Court rejected it outright.

Cut 12 and 13: An elaborate disclaimer acknowledging the government and police for their efforts to fight the drug menace and putting the responsibility on the people of the country. Also a second disclaimer saying the film is a work of fiction.

Court: Did not think it was necessary to do that. Director Abhishek Chaubey though decided to add a simple disclaimer specifying that the film is not against any specific state and that the filmmakers do not support drug abuse or the use of swear words.

The filmmakers agreed to cut 9, which showed the rock star Tommy urinating on the crowd. 

Udta Punjab, starring Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh is slated to release 17 July.