MUMBAI: The censorship row over Udta Punjab saw the film fraternity come out in support of the movie at a packed press conference on Wednesday and superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan join the chorus against the censor board’s demands.
Co-producer Anurag Kashyap was joined by the film’s director Abhishek Chaubey and cast Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt as well as filmmakers Ekta Kapoor, Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar, Sudhir Mishra and Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt among others at the press conference called by the Indian Film and Television Directors Association.
Speaking of the board’s demand for numerous cuts and changes, Chaubey said ,“Two days ago, I called up my producers and told them let’s take the cuts and go ahead with the film... But the next day, we decided against it. We thought, ‘agar ab chup rahe toh kabhi koi achi films nahi banegi (if we stay silent now, we won’t ever be able to make good films).”
“The censor board has a bullying attitude and is resorting to lies... It’s unfortunate we have to justify our honesty. At every stage, we need a government-approved stamp,” said Kashyap. “We want the film to be released as it is… and we will fight till we can.”
Requesting the government to sack censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani, Mukesh Bhatt said, “A person who is a roadblock and not a facilitator should be removed… His moves are malicious and vicious. He lies, delays the process and bullies the person. A producer is held ransom by the board. The film is exposed to a loss of 60 crore. Who is going to pay for that?”
“We haven’t seen the film, so the content can be judged only after it is released. But as filmmakers, we are not bound to tolerate this,” said Imtiaz Ali.
Accusing the board of delaying tactics, the makers of Udta Punjab said they had to move the high court to get a copy of the board’s demands. Nihalani, however, claimed the list was ready on Monday itself but no one had come to collect it.
Calling for “a system where there is certification rather than censor”, Bachchan said on the sidelines of his film promotion, “When you kill our creativity, you kill our soul… I am not aware of the Udta Punjab issue. But it is unfortunate there is going to be a delay that they have to fight their way to the high court.”
Khan said the film’s social message — Punjab’s drug problem — should not be kept from the audience. “As per my knowledge, it (the film) is based on drug addiction and delivers a social message. I don’t think there is anything that should be cut.”
Seeking freedom of speech for every Indian, he said, “The voice of the filmmaker shouldn’t be throttled.”