The Shahid Kapoor-starrer Udta Punjab that recently won a bitter battle against the censor board may not be out of the woods, yet.
A Punjab-based NGO on Wednesday challenged in the Supreme Court the Bombay high court order that cleared the film on drug abuse in Punjab with just one cut.
The film, which will be for adult viewers only, is scheduled to be released in cinemas on June 17.
The NGO, Human Rights Awareness Association, sought urgent hearing on its petition claiming the movie depicted the state in “bad light”.
A vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and L Nageswara Rao, however, asked the NGO to first get their petition cleared from the registry.
During the day, the Delhi High Court directed the producers of the film to remove from the movie trailers a scene which the Bombay high court has ordered deleted.
The HC order, which came on a plea by the same NGO, asked the film’s producer Phantom Films to “modify” the promos and ensure that the scene in question is also withdrawn from online such as like YouTube.
Phantom Films agreed comply with the HC order.
The Bombay HC on June 13 overturned a controversial suggestion by the censor board seeking 13 cuts to the movie which it deemed offensive to people’s sensibilities and a threat to the country’s integrity.
“Do not act like a grandmother. Change as per the times now,” a bench of SC Dharmadhikari and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said in its order, hailed by the film fraternity as a “landmark judgment”.
Besides asking the producers to delete a scene which shows the lead character, a drug-addicted rock star played by Kapoor, urinating in public, the court also ordered modification of a disclaimer by deleting a reference to Pakistan.
The board had also asked for all references to Punjab be deleted but didn’t get its way. The board’s suggestions had sparked a debate on creative freedom, with the film fraternity and even politicians joining in.
The border state is due for polls early next year and the ruling SAD-BJP combine are battling anti-incumbency and charges of corruption. The film showed Punjab in bad light and was removed from reality, the Punjab government had said.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi hit back at the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, saying it didn’t want to end the drug menace because it was “benefiting them hugely”. “… The Akali Dal and its leaders are reaping huge profits due to drugs every day,” Gandhi said.
The Aam Aadmi Party that is presenting itself as the third alternative in the poll-bound state, while denying the charge of funding the film said Udta Punjab reflected the “truth about Punjab.