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Udta Punjab vs Censor Board: What Aamir, Kangana and Others Are Saying

Udta Punjab is battling the Censor Board's prescribed 89 cuts, led by co-producer Anurag Kashyap who is campaigning to have the film release in its current form

  | June 10, 2016 13:06 IST (New Delhi)
Udta Punjab

Aamir Khan, Kangana Ranaut and Priyanka Chopra photographed in Mumbai.

Highlights

  • Don't think there's anything that should be cut in the film, says Aamir
  • Amitabh Bachchan was always diplomatic and said 'don't kill creativity'
  • Censoring reality amounts to delusion, Karan Johar had tweeted
Drug drama Udta Punjab is battling the Censor Board's prescribed 89 cuts, led by co-producer Anurag Kashyap who is campaigning to have the film release in its current form. The changes ordered by chief Censor Pahlaj Nihalani include deleting references to 'Punjab.' On Wednesday, Mr Kashyap and several industry colleagues addressed the press, arguing in favour of the film and freedom of expression. Others from Bollywood, including actors Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, have also spoken out against the censoring of Udta Punjab.
Speaking to the press in Mumbai, Kangana Ranaut told reporters: "We have been very concerned with the way things are going. I am not a director, I have never been through the process. But my very close friends and people I closely work with seem extremely disturbed with the way things are; to an extent they feel bullied. I would support them. They are legitimate artistes. They know the process of certification. It's not censorship. We don't have to have that parental attitude towards the audience."
Actress Priyanka Chopra said: "Our forefathers achieved freedom of speech and expression for us after a long struggle. Creativity should not be stopped in democracy. It's a certification body and not censor. In democracy you cannot dictate what one should eat or watch a movie on a social issue. Title is the creativity of every producer and director. So, how can it be changed?"
Aamir Khan said: "This kind of thing reflects very badly on the CBFC. It's a social film which talks about the drug addiction issue of Punjab's youth. It has a good social message. I don't think there's anything that should be cut or not shown to the audience. It's very important that filmmakers have a voice which is not throttled. In any society, the voice of the artiste should be free to speak what he wants to speak. I think the makers of the film are going to the FCAT (Film Certification Appellate Tribunal) in two, three days. My best wishes to the team that it gets justice at the Tribunal."
Amitabh Bachchan, always diplomatic, chose his words carefully: "I am not quite aware of what the issue is. I have been reading about it. All I can say is that don't try and kill creativity. If you kill creativity, you kill the soul and that is all that we (artistes) have. That would be detrimental. I know that there are rules and regulations. That's something that the government has to decide. But as an artiste and a creative person, all I can say is that don't kill creativity. It is unfortunate that there is going to be a delay that they have to fight their way through the High Court. In the past, my films were denied release and we had to go to higher authorities. Eventually, creativity won. But yes, delay was something that one had to cope with."
Shyam Benegal, who heads the government-appointed revamp panel of the Central Board of Film Certification, said: "If you ask me technically, it's a very well-made film."
On Thursday he told news agency ANI:
 
 
Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, who has made films like Masoom and Bandit Queen, also tweeted:
 
In his new column for NDTV.com, filmmaker Karan Johar wrote that he was "suffering the side effects of a relatively new affliction called Censorrhoea. Also known as Censoritus. And it might be about to become an epidemic."
He explained: "I'm deeply stressed as a filmmaker, and I know I'm not alone. The censorship crisis, the moral policing, the politics of it has most of us on edge. I'm scared to use certain words: like if I use "Bombay", will there be a problem?... And now, Punjab is apparently off limits."
Mr Johar, who was directed by Anurag Kashyap in Bombay Velvet, also tweeted:
 
Others apart from Karan Johar expressed their outrage on Twitter, including Alia Bhatt who stars in the film:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On Wednesday, top filmmakers attended a press conference to say they stood with Mr Kashyap.
Mahesh Bhatt: The year is 2016, we have a globally connected population. All the talk of growth and progress is poppycock if the freedom of our founding fathers is taken away. Do you want to turn India into Saudi Arabia?
Zoya Akhtar: There are many things which are made which offend me by how they portray women. But I cannot stop them. I can choose not to buy the ticket. Udta Punjab needs to release, denying a problem does not help it.
Udta Punjab's lead actor Shahid Kapoor: Let us make sure we fight for what this country stands for.
Imtiaz Ali: Anything that attacks the freedom of speaking is frustrating...we don't need to tolerate it unnecessarily.
Udta Punjab is slated for release on June 17 and Mr Kashyap told NDTV he hopes to be able to release his film on that date without changes. He has made it clear that "Punjab" cannot be separated from the film.
Mr Kashyap had strong words for the Censor Board on Twitter:
 
 

Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, Udta Punjab deals with Punjab's drug problem and stars Shahid Kapoor as a drug addicted rockstar, Alia Bhatt as a Bihari migrant, Kareena Kapoor Khan as doctor and Diljit Dosanjh as a cop.

 
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