If Goa Can be Shown With Drugs, Why Not Punjab: Bombay HC to CBFC

Bombay HC asks CBFC to explain cuts; board defends decision

2 min read
A poster of the film, Udta Punjab. (Photo: Phantom Films Limited)
Youth has the right to know that drugs are a menace
Shahid Kapoor

On June 8, some members of the film industry, and the cast of Udta Punjab came together to register their anger and frustration at the “prudish” CBFC, which is chaired by a school headmaster like man, Pahlaj Nihalani and is keen on butchering the film, which is based on the drug menace in Punjab.

And on Thursday, the Bombay High Court too asked the CBFC what was wrong if the obviously-there drug problem of Punjab was displayed on the big screen.

If Goa can be shown as a place of drug abuse, what is wrong if Punjab is shown in Udta Punjab?
Justice SC Dharmadhikari

Justice Dharmadhikari likened the film to Go, Goa, Gone (2013) which showed Goa as a party destination where people chilled and consumed banned drugs.

“Has drug menace never been portrayed on celluloid? Some may be crude, while some may be artistic. How does this signboard insult anyone?”, the judge asked the CBFC.

Asking the board to explain the 13 changes it had suggested in the upcoming Bollywood release, the bench also expressed their reservations on two suggested deletions of references to Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Jashanpura and Moga in Punjab during a hearing of a petition filed by the film’s co-producer Phantom Films before a division bench of Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi.

The Revising Committee’s order had suggested deleting references to Punjab as it was allegedly not in conformity with the Cinematograph Act and portrayed the state in a negative light.

To which the court posed the question, “Are you suggesting that the film depicts Punjab as only a drug capital...?”

About the reviewing committee’s insistence to keep the state machinery and political parties out of the controversial film, the court asked, “How can you ask them to delete words like ‘MP’, ‘MLA’, ‘election’ etc.”

Meanwhile, at the court, CBFC stoutly defended its Revising Committee’s decision in the matter, and maintained that the suggested changes were “justified and proper”.

The court will now continue to hear the case on Friday.

Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, the film, starring Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor-Khan and Diljit Dosanjh in leading roles, is centered on the drug problem in Punjab.

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