In the past three days there has been a raging controversy about the fate of Udta Punjab, the hard-hitting anti-drugs film set in Punjab’s heartland which takes on the drug menace in the State headlong.
The Censor Board Of Film Certification(CBFC) has viewed the film and objected to the references to Punjab.
Significantly the film’s director Abhishek Choubey has so far kept quiet about his film’s fate . It is AnuragKashyap who is one of the film’s producers, who has been severely vocal , even calling the CBFC chairperson “an extremely egoistic man”, an assessment that many within the present government and within the film fraternity feel applies to Kashyap just as well.
This may come as a surprise to the filmmaker who prides himself as being the guardian angel and savior ofsoutspoken Indian cinema. But his rants against the CBFC, its chairperson and the government in power is not helping the cause of Udta Punjab at all.
Says a notable source from the government, “No one has told Kashyap that all references to Punjab have to be cut. But yes, naming Punjab as a drug-infested state in the film is a problem.We suspect the State is not going to be react favourably to being shown as a hotbed of substance abuse. So the film is already in trouble in Punjab. As for not naming the State, we can’t get away from that because 60 percent of the dialogues are in Punjabi.If the characters are constantly speaking in Punjabi how can Punjab be taken out of Udta Punjab?”
The solution according to the source, is to take out references to the Punjab elections and the elections commission from the film.
Says censor chief Pahlaj Nihalani, “The problem is, the disclaimer that they’ve put at the start of the film saying Udta Punjab is a work of fiction makes no sense. Because all the prominent cities of Punjab are mentioned by name and shown as drug-infested areas. Otherwise we’ve restored even the abuses that we had advised to be deleted from the trailer including Alia Bhatt’s abusive language. Shahid’s character uses abusive language throughout the film.We’ve even agreed to let him talk dirty. It’s one thing for an individual to be abusive. But how can we allow the whole of Punjab to be abused?”