Anurag Kashyap, the co-producer of Udta Punjab, questioned the style of functioning of censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani on Wednesday, saying demands to drop references to Punjab in the film violated free speech.
“This is the war for the freedom of expression. You can’t differentiate between two types of content. The audience should have the right to reject or accept,” the filmmaker said.
He was flanked by prominent filmmakers such as Mahesh Bhatt, Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar and Satish Kaushik as Bollywood rallied behind the makers of the controversial film that revolves around the drug addiction problem in Punjab.
“We should have the power to judge a film. Not a single person should do it for me. We have the right to make the kind of cinema we want,”Kashyap said.
The film was slated for a June 17 release but ran intro trouble after Anurag Kashyap revealed that the censor board’s revising committee had demanded 94 cuts and drop references to Punjab in the movie.
Critics say the demand is linked to the Punjab assembly polls nine months away where the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal – an ally of the BJP – is likely to face tough questions about the state’s mounting drug crisis.
Kashyap said that he was willing to take part in the process of certification. He referred to FCAT (Film Certification Appellate Tribunal) as well, “We’re trying to release our film on 17th. Now, when we have got the letter, we’re participating in the process.”
Other prominent filmmakers said they stood by the Udta Punjab team.
“We haven’t seen the film, so the content of the film can be judged only after it releases. But as filmmakers, we are not bound to tolerate this,” said Imtiaz Ali.
Mahesh Bhatt echoed the same sentiments, “We stand with Anurag on this issue. I am opposed to CBFC’s manipulation and its functioning style.”
Watch: Shahid, Alia, Kareena, Diljit in Udta Punjab trailer
“Everybody knew about the theme of Udta Punjab when we were shooting it, so why there is a problem now. What’s happening now is not correct,” said Satish Kaushik.
Mukesh Bhatt, President of the Film & Television Producers Guild of India, was also vocal in his criticism of Nihalani. “I am opposed to CBFC’s manipulation and its functioning style. Pahlaj Nihalani doesn’t deserve to be the chief of the Censor Board.
Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, the film starring Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh.
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