Associated Press, The National
A Hindi-language movie about drug abuse in India’s northern state of Punjab has been cleared for viewing after its director was ordered to cut several scenes.
Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, the film stars Bollywood A-listers Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt.
Indian Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani told reporters that Udta Punjab (Flying Punjab) had been certified for adult audiences and can be screened in theatres, but only after 13 scenes were removed.
The film certification board is legally empowered to protect audiences from content that includes profanity, excessive violence, sexuality and nudity.
A Mumbai court is expected to rule on Wednesday, June 15, on an appeal by the film’s producers challenging the cuts and changes as a condition for the film’s release.
Nihalani, who said nine board members watched the film and unanimously decided on the rating and the need to cut some violent scenes, added that the ball is now “in the producers’ court”.
“Whether they are going to the court or tribunal, and what decision is the court giving, that’s for them to see,” said Nihalani. “The producer claimed that we had asked for change in the title, but we never asked them for it.”
Last week, Times Now reported that the censor board had demanded 89 cuts, which the makers have refused to make. Bollywood stars and filmmakers came out strongly in support of the film, which was directed by Abhishek Chaubey, condemning the the political pressure that has led to the demands. Karan Johar, Shekhar Gupta, Mahesh Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Ram Gopal Varma, Soha Ali Khan, Nikhil Advani and many others tweeted in support of the right to free speech and creative expression. Johar wrote: “Udta Punjab speaks of the reality of our times… Censoring reality amounts to delusion. The fraternity has to stand by what’s right.” Bhatt also took to social media, directing his comments at Pahlaj Nihalani, head of the Central Board of Film Certification, as he wrote: “Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Is Pahlaj Nihalani listening?”
Udta Punjab is co-produced by Phantom Films, which is co-owned by indie-film director Anurag Kashyap, and Balaji Motion Pictures. It is due to be released in the UAE on Thursday, June 16.
Source: art & life