The Supreme Court on Thursday declined the plea of an NGO to put on hold the release of the film Udta Punjab and asked Human Rights Awareness Association to approach the Punjab and Haryana high court.
The NGO had on Thursday sought urgent hearing on its petition, claiming the film on drug abuse in the border state depicted Punjab in a “bad light”. A vacation bench of justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and justice L Nageswara Rao, however, asked it to first get the petition cleared from the registry.
Appearing for Phantom Films, senior counsel Meenakshi Arora said the Central Board for Film Certification had already given the certificate and the film had been released overseas. The film would be released across 8,000 screens countrywide on Friday.
The petition came after 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 was removed from reality, the Punjab government had said. The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party accused the government of being in denial about the drug menace.
The Shiromani Akali Dal leaders were benefiting from drug trade and had allowed it to thrive, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had said.