Director Abhisek Chaubey’s latest directorial venture ‘Udta Punjab’ was all set to be an unprecedented film, taking a harsh look at the drug problem in the Indian state of Punjab, though an outrageously fictional lens. The film was especially important considering it wasn’t an independent project but rather a mainstream Bollywood movie with a popular star cast, backed by major industry studios.
However, the film has now been refused to be released by the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) of India due to “excessive swearing, abusive language and drug consumption.” The Censor Board CEO had this to say regarding the issue:
“It’s a normal process and I don’t understand why this ruckus is being created. There were some differences among members of the EC, so we had referred the film to the RC. But the makers have directly gone to FCAT which will now take a decision.” – Censor Board CEO
The trailer for ‘Udta Punjab’ was released earlier this year in April, with no accommodations or cuts, making this action by the CBFC even more surprising to all. As of this writing, the makers of ‘Udta Punjab’ are trying to deal with the issue and get the film released.
This news comes as the latest escalation in an on going issue with the CBFC, where serious issue driven films are scrutinized under a microscope where as more vulgar and frivolous content are easily passed for consumption by the Board. The Censor Board’s ideal purpose should be to safeguard the public from exposure to content, subject matter and depictions in film that may be harmful; but without impeding on freedom of expression or the urgency of the art form.
CBFC bans release of ‘Udta Punjab’ in India.
The CBFC however, seems to be operating based on political motivations and own personal opinions, at least it seems that way. Films like ‘Mastizaade’ and ‘Kya Kool Hain Hum 3’, featuring explicit & vulgar content, sexual objectification, implied on screen sexual acts and even derogatory attitudes towards women and homosexuals, are cleared by the board with no issues. But films like ‘Aligarh’ which has been critically applauded in films festivals the world over, and Disney’s own live action adaptation of a children’s animated movie ‘The Jungle Book’, created controversy over the Board’s need for cuts and certifying methods.
‘Udta Punjab’ could be a an influential film, given the its mass appeal. The film stars Shahid Kapoor as a drug addicted rock star, seemingly providing much of the outrageously hilarious moments in the film. Alia Bhatt plays a labourer who stumbles onto drug dealing. Punjabi actor Diljit Dosanjh plays a potentially corrupt police office, highlighting how law officers act in the face of extreme hardships, given their low pay. And providing even more of a serious take on things is Kareena Kapoor-Khan’s character, a doctor who unearths the drug abuse in the state.
‘Udta Punjab’ is produced by Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films, who is no stranger to controversies with the censor board, choosing to release his own directorial film ‘Ugly’ many months after it’s completion so as to avoid the on-screen cigarette smoking disclaimer that would’ve hindered the narrative of his film.
Stay tuned to Time Pass Fun on more on this story as it develops.