The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday ordered a special screening of Anurag Kashyap’s film Udta Punjab before a panel on Tuesday to examine its content and submit its report on Thursday. The order came minutes after the movie was cleared by the Bombay high court with one cut and a modification in the disclaimer.
The single-judge bench of justice M Jeyapaul appointed Bombay high court lawyer Sujay N Kantawala as amicus curaie and directed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and Phantom Movies Private Limited, the makers of the movie, to arrange the special screening on Tuesday.
After watching the film, Kantawala would ascertain if it was fit for public viewing and submit his report to the high court on Thursday. The high court also issued a show-cause notice to the Government of India, the CBFC and producer of the movie as to why the public exhibition of the movie should not be restrained.
‘PUNJABI CULTURE SHOWN IN POOR LIGHT’
The order came on the petition of high court lawyer and Jalandhar resident Wattan Sharma, who had approached the court stating that the unedited version of the movie be examined by it. The petitioner had also sought directions to restrain the release of the movie till the court decision.
The court was told that Punjabi culture had been portrayed in “bad light”. “The film reflects negative branding of Punjab and Punjabis, especially the youth. If the film is released, it will have adverse repercussions all over Punjab,” the court was told. The petitioner had cited reports on the film’s controversy, stating that it was also being alleged that a political party had a role to play in its production.
The petition was mentioned for urgent hearing in the morning, and taken up post lunch. During the hearing, justice Jeyapaul enquired from the petitioner about the issue being adjudicated before the Bombay high court. However, the petitioner said that the matter before the Bombay high court related to a challenge made by the producer against the inaction of the revision committee of the CBFC.
Besides Kantawala, representatives of the petitioner, central government and CBFC are at liberty to watch the special screening.
Capt hails Bombay high court verdict
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Capt Amarinder Singh, meanwhile, hailed the Bombay high court verdict on the ‘Udta Punjab’ movie.
“I am glad that the court has cleared the movie with a single cut. Left to a partisan censor board, the movie would have been bereft of its soul,” said Amarinder in a statement.
The HC verdict, he added, has vindicated everybody who stood by the makers of the movie. Capt said he hoped the verdict will open the eyes of those who have always preferred to live in denial.
‘No change in Punjab’s stand’
Punjab chief minister’s adviser on national affairs Harcharan Bains said on Monday that there is no change in the Punjab government’s stand on the movie ‘Udta Punjab’. The government has always maintained that the ongoing row involves only the movie’s producers and
the censor board, he said while calling allegations about government’s intervention “absurd”.