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Pahlaj Nihalani hits back at Udta Punjab makers, says the film is an insult to Punjab

The CBFC chief has hit back at his detractors by defending the decision of demanding 89 cuts to the film. 

Shriram Iyengar

The swords are now fully drawn on both sides of the battlements. CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani came out in defence of the board's decision to demand 89 cuts and a change to the title of Abhishek Chaubey's Udta Punjab. In an interview, Nihalani said "It has defamatory references to people in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and other cities in Punjab. It paints all Punjabis in bad light. Such a movie if released will bring bad name to the community that is present everywhere in the world." 

Objecting to the team's decision to turn to the media, Nihalani said, "The movie was supposed to be cleared with an A grade and 89 cuts. We had communicated orally to the filmmakers who had agreed to come back with the cuts but they went to the media instead." He also stated that the cuts were approved in unanimous decision by the board members. Of the many scenes, two gain particular mention in the report. One scene reportedly has a mention of a dog named Jackie Chan. The board had requested the filmmakers to remove the 'Chan' and call the dog Jackie instead. Another member is reported as saying that a dialogue in the film 'Punjab di zameen banjar aur aulaad kanjar hai' was found objectionable by the board members. 

The film's co-producer, Anurag Kashyap had taken to Twitter on Tuesday to make his stand against the CBFC demands. In one thinly veiled tweet, he compared the board with the dictatorship of North Korea. 

In reply to the Gangs of Wasseypur director, Nihalani retorted, "What dictatorship is he talking about? Nearly eight movies of his have been released in the last one year...Every time he creates unwanted controversy to get attention to get his movies running." 

Incidentally, reports have emerged that Nihalani's son, Chirag Nihalani, and daughter in law, Radhika Nihalani, work as part of the marketing team for the film in Balaji Telefilms Ltd, another producer of the film. They were involved in the process of getting the trailer of the movie approved by the board. It is to be noted that the trailer was approved without any cuts or changes requested.

The team of Udta Punjab is set to attend a press conference clarifying their issues today at the Indian Film and TV Director's Association. The issue has already generated a lot of furore on both sides of the divide across social media platforms. 

Udta Punjab stars Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh. It is slated for release on 17 June.