Bombay HC on Udta Punjab: Can’t randomly pick words and raise objections

Hindustan Times | By, Mumbai
Jun 13, 2016 02:58 PM IST

The Bombay high court on Monday began dictating its order on the plea filed by the makers of Anurag Kashyap’s Udta Punjab.

Dictating its order on the plea filed by the makers of Anurag Kashyap’s Udta Punjab, the Bombay high court on Monday said the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) cannot use its powers ‘arbitrarily’. The makers of the movie had objected to the cuts suggested by Pahlaj Nihalani-led CBFC.

Shahid Kapoor plays Tommy Singh, a rockstar in Udta Punjab.
Shahid Kapoor plays Tommy Singh, a rockstar in Udta Punjab.

Summarising the arguments made by both sides over the last week, HC suggested that the filmmakers might be granted relief against the numerous cuts suggested by the CBFC though, with revised disclaimers.

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“Art must render obscenity so trivial that it doesn’t affect people’s minds,” the high court said. Directed by Abhishek Choubey of Ishiya fame, Udta Punjab stars Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh along with Shahid. The film has been co-produced by Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films and Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Motion Pictures.

Read: How censors made Udta Punjab bleed

The court said that while it was an “undisputed fact that the CBFC had legal powers to suggest cuts and thus, creative freedom was not an absolute,” the board must be kept in mind that CBFC can not use its powers “arbitarily.”

HC also said that though there was a “heavy burden on CBFC to justify its restrictions” however, while reviewing scripts, CBFC must consider the work as a whole and not randomly “pick out words from dialogues and songs and object to them out of context. “Though the board of empowered to make cuts, it must remember that its job is to certify and not censor,” HC said.

Read: Udta Punjab gets A certificate by CBFC

Justice SC Dharmadhikari said that while creative freedom wasn’t absolute, one must realise the importance of films as a medium of social change. “We have gone through the script of Udta Punjab and it nowhere suggests that it affects the sovereignty and integrity of the nation or the state. Easy availability and accessibility of drugs has taken a toll particularly on the youth of Punjab and the authorities are struggling to control the menace. The filmmakers have chosen to highlight this problem through the character of Tommy, a rock star, who causes his own downfall through drug abuse,” the court said.

Watch: Shahid Kapoor in a song from Udta Punjab

Bombay HC is likely to continue dictating the order at 3 p.m.

Read: Don’t be overly critical of Udta Punjab, HC tells CBFC

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