Udta Punjab row: Bombay HC seeks justification from CBFC over proposed cuts

High court poses serious questions to censor board, asks it to submit explanations by Friday.

Mayur Lookhar

The makers of Udta Punjab had reason to cheer after the Bombay high court sought a detailed explanation from the Central Board of Film Certifciation, popularly known as the censor board, to justify their 13 recomendations to the makers of Udta Punjab, as reported by television channels. The board is expected to submit a reply to the court tomorrow. 

The filmmakers had approached the high court on 8 June seeking redress after the CBFC failed to provide a certification to the film. Though the court did not deliver a final verdict, it raised some pertinent questions on the topic. 

Advising the CBFC to allow some room for creativity, the court questioned the board's view that releasing the film would defame the state of Punjab. It also asked the board to explain the basis on which it objected to the presence of Punjabi signboards in the film.

Justice SC Dharmadhikari was amused at the hue and cry over the issues depicted in the film. Talking to the CBFC counsel, he said, "Has drug menace never been portrayed on screen before? Some depictions may be subtle, some may be crude, but can they be termed offensive?"

The court also raised questions on the board's objection to words like election, MP, and MLA in the film, since these words have been used in films before. 

Allaying the censor board's concern that the film may tarnish the image of the state, the court emphasised that it would ensure that the film does not promote drugs in any manner.

Meanwhile, former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh of the Congress lent his backing to the filmmakers, offering to screen uncensored copies of the film in Majitha town in Amritsar district on 17 June.

The film's co-producer, Anurag Kashyap, meanwhile, has categorically stated that he will fight this battle by himself and does not need the help of any political party.

With the court raising serious questions that are in line with the filmmakers' arguments, Kashyap and his team will be hopeful of a favourable verdict.