The censorship of Udta Punjab has galvanized Bollywood into speaking out as one against the 89 cuts ordered by the Censor Board - all of Bollywood except for actors Akshay Kumar and Chunky Pandey who lightened the mood at a press conference in Mumbai by quipping that their own film Housefull 3 would benefit from delaying the release of Udta Punjab.
Speaking to the press on Thursday, Akshay was told Udta Punjab's original release date was June 17 but that it could be delayed. "If it gets pushed ahead, so it will be beneficial to us (Housefull 3)," joked the 49-year-old actor.
"Really I have done a 'setting' with Pahlaj ji to delay the film," Chunky chimed in. Chief Censor Pahlaj Nihalani has ordered that all references to 'Punjab' be deleted from the film, a move that his critics say is politically-motivated. Punjab is months away from polls and the state's drug problem forms the subject matter of the film.
Asked to comment directly on the controversy about Udta Punjab, Akshay said he would let Chunky answer because of his connect to Mr Nihalani. "I want Chunky Pandey sahab to give the answer to this question. His first film Aag Hi Aag was made by Pahlaj ji," said Akshay.
"Pahlaj ji is my godfather in the film industry and he gave me birth in the film industry. Nowadays, numerous people call me related to him, I'm very proud of him," Chunky said. "As far as Udta Punjab is concerned, I haven't seen the film but udte toh tote hain, Punjab kaha se udta hai (It's the parrots that fly, not Punjab). But I don't know; I can't tell anything about him."
When Farhad Samji, one half of the director duo Sajid-Farhad, rapped a song from the film with the words Maa Behan, Chunky again quipped, "I hope Pahlaj ji is not listening to this."
Housefull 3, which released last Friday, has earned around Rs 68 crores at the box-office so far.
Meanwhile, other celebrities have spoken out strongly against the censoring of Udta Punjab. Aamir Khan said, "This doesn't reflect well on the Central Board of Film Certification." Kangana Ranaut said, "We don't have to have that parental attitude towards the audience." "Don't kill creativity. If you kill creativity, you kill the soul and that is all that we (artistes) have," said Amitabh Bachchan.
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