‘Udta Punjab’: Will It Fly..

By Deepti D.

“There is a fine line between censorship and good taste and moral responsibility.” -Steven Spielberg

Very well said Mr Spielberg… but alas… our dear Censor Board does not believe in this… and the latest movie to actually face the wrath of this is none other than the Shahid Kapur starrer “UDTA PUNJAB”

Slated to release on June 17th, one of the most awaited films this year hit a roadblock after the Censor Board’s Revising Panel suggested 89 cuts, including the song “Chitta Ve”from the film as the it was dealing with the serious subject of drug abuse in the state of Punjab and how it is affecting our youths of today. The CBFC is said to have reportedly demanded an alteration of the narrative asking the makers to even drop ‘Punjab’ from the title. The Board suggested that “the film be set in a fictitious setting instead of a particular state”.

The controversy surrounding this upcoming film is getting murkier day by the day. Allegations and counter-allegations have given it a political twist. It has been reportedly claimed that the references to the name of the state Punjab could influence Assembly election scheduled there next year. Earlier the censor board had initially cited 40 cuts based on explicit language and drug. The producers had then approached a tribunal to seek an ‘A’ certificate so that the cuts wouldn’t have to be implemented. however, it is the revising committee that has now recommended more cuts than originally asked for and has asked for removal of ‘Punjab’ from the title. 

Anurag Kashyap, whose production house Phantom has co-produced the film, is one angry man and we cannot blame him because here in India, a series of senseless movies like”Kya SuperKool hain Hum” and all those having cheap lyrics of “Kambal mein Aaja” types gets a nod without any hiccups and a Movie which is dealing with reality is put on hold and made to do obstacle race…

And then when our angry Mr Kashyap took to twitter, which ranged from calling the Censor Board chief a dictator to tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to stating that he has experienced what it is to live in North Korea, has itself become cause for debate. The statement said “I request Congress, AAP and other political parties to stay out of my battle. It’s my Rights vs the Censorship. I speak only on my behalf. It’s my fight Vs a dictatorial man sitting there operating like an oligarch in his constituency of censor board, that’s my North Korea. Rests of you go pick your own fights. I will fight mine. So please don’t colour my fight with any political affiliation because there is none,” all hell broke…Interestingly Mr Nihalini the CBFC Chief has even accused Anurag kashyap of taking money from AAP and making it a publicity stunt.

The problem with CBFC is that it shows the double standards we have…on one hand we criticize Bollywood for not making cinema that is in sync with the times, and when it does attempt it, we turn our back on it. Will changing the name of the film from say “Udta Punjab” to say “Udta kabootar” change the plot… will the story line change from the drug abuse of the state to a romance between 2 kabootars?? Well I guess the film should be release without any cuts and infact make it mandatory for every adult to watch it so that they also know what is killing the youth these days. Reality hits hard they say, so let it hit our generation, who might get influenced and do something better with their lives.

William Shakespeare had once said “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.”

We can just wait with bated breath and watch whether “Udta Punjab” would be given wings to fly or not…..