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Udta Punjab incident inspired Mahesh Bhatt to get early CBFC clearance for Begum Jaan

The filmmaker spoke about how he got the CBFC certificate before fixing the release date.

Suparna Thombare

The trailer of director Srijit Mukherji's Begum Jaan was launched at an event a few hours ago and apart from Vidya Balan's fierce performance, the other thing that stood out in it were the expletives used by her character.

Vidya said that there will be a lot more in the film, owing to the setting of the film in a brothel house. But the makers of the film, Vishesh Films and Play Entertainment, do not have to worry about troubles from the CBFC because they decided to get clearance from the board even before fixing the release date of the film as 14 April. The film already has an A certificate and the makers are happy with the treatment of the board this time around. 

"Seeing what happened with Udta Punjab, Mukesh told me 'let us get the decision (from CBFC) first, and later fix the release date. (Otherwise) when the marketing and other things begin, we will have to compromise. We had decided that we will not allow any mischief with the script," said Mahesh Bhatt, while also mentioning the perennial battle between the Bhatts and the censor board.

"When I had seen Rajkahini, I was shaken to the core. I wrote an article, saying, 'The moral compass of this nation is intact as long as there are filmmakers like Srijit (Mukherjee). This is the story of a brothel, but its moral and spiritual integrity will surprise us. You will be surprised that we still have the talent, that will take you to the peak that we don't reach often. I have repeatedly said that through Begum Jaan, the roads of your life will lead to those heights of thought where you will not go. You fill find goodness in it. When we decided to make this film, me and Mukesh, have always had a fight with the authorities, and the establishment. Because every time you try to widen the cage you will have to face trouble. We are ready for that. But something strange happened with us," said Mahesh.

The filmmaker said that the reaction of the censor board was unexpected. He found members of the CBFC in tears when the film got over. "We had gone to the censor screening of the film at Nehru Auditorium — me, Srijit, Vishesh were all there. At the end of the film, as the climax reel was rolling, I looked to Srijit and said, 'People are crying inside. Your film will be censored.'"

Interestingly, Mukherji even shot alternate scenes using different curse words as options in case the board objects to certain words, and that really came in handy.