Udta Punjab will release this Friday with just a single cut, ruled the Bombay High Court on Monday to universal cheering on Twitter. The censorship of the drug drama, starring Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, raised hackles across the film industry and social media with widespread condemnation of the Censor Board’s several ordered edits, including the deletion of all references to Punjab.
“I believe,” tweeted co-producer Anurag Kashyap, who led the charge on behalf of the film. “See you at the movies on 17th June,” tweeted Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Motion Pictures, also a producer.
Anurag also thanked the court for its decision:
Producer Mukesh Bhatt told NDTV, “First as a filmmaker and then also as the President of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India, today I’m a relieved man. With the verdict coming in the favour of freedom of expression I have reassured myself that in this country that as a filmmaker, not only me but a generation next, will be allowed to make films and create content freely without a watchdog hovering over their heads. We were petrified thinking that we are heading towards a very dark age. But the judiciary has rekindled the hope in us and reassured us that there is the break of a new dawn through the judiciary.”
Director Sudhir Mishra also spoke to NDTV: “I think it’s wonderful and it speaks very well for the democracy we’re living in. I’m so glad that the industry stood by the filmmakers. The industry came together after a long time and spoke in one voice. Therefore I’m really happy for younger filmmakers who will now think without fear and the industry will evolve as it should. Filmmakers will make films about their times – entertaining, engaging, interesting, engrossing and relevant films. The chairman (Pahlaj Nihalani) is a filmmaker and you should understand that words are used in a context, in a style. You can’t just arbitrarily use the guidelines. You have to use it in a spirit and not literally like they do.”
Speaking to NDTV, filmmaker Vikas Bahl said: “I think it’s a very good verdict. It’s very well judged. Everyone has gone through all the pros and cons of what has happened. It was important that this happens, not just for Udta Punjab but it’s important for every other film that is going to be written, created over the next many, many years in this country. I think we used to make extremely futuristic movies in this country. Storytelling was amazing many years back. We have to come back to that. We have to be fearless, we have to be honest. We have to make all kinds of movies. And I think this verdict is excellent from that point of view.”
Shyam Benegal, who heads the government-appointed revamp panel of the Central Board of Film Certification, told NDTV: “I think the Bombay High Court’s judgement is the perfect judgement. It is mature, it is intelligent. The most important thing very few people realise is that people who applied for the censor certificate has asked for an ‘A’ certificate anyway. They had not asked for a ‘U’ certificate or ‘U/A’ certificate. And there was no need for the CBFC to go through that exercise. Eventually the high Court took cognizance of the fact that this is an adult film. It deals with a very important problem and a serious problem also. And therefore I think they took the right kind of judgement. No one can bother with the judgement at all. And I think the cut that they had asked for, seems perfectly fine to me.”
Celebrities like actresses Sonakshi Sinha and Dia Mirza, filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar and Hansal Mehta and author Chetan Bhagat also tweeted:
2015 Kashmir Despatch