Anurag Kashyap, co-producer of Udta Punjab, sought the removal of Pahlaj Nihalani, the chief of Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) and called for an overhaul in the Board. The director-producer, addressing the media in Mumbai, said, “We have a humongous problem with Mr Nihalani but if he goes who will come in? What’s the guarantee that if someone comes in, he will not interpret the Cinematograph Act and the law the same way, or may be worse or better. The system needs overhaul. It is not just Nihalani, who needs to be replaced, which we want”.
Kashyap had been leading the film industry’s fight against the censor board which had demanded 89 cuts to Udta Punjab. Subsequently, the makers of the film approached the Bombay HC on June 10. On Monday, the court ruled in favour of the film makers, and directed the CBFC to clear Udta Punjab with just one cut – reportedly, the scene that shows Shahid Kapoor’s character Tommy Singh urinating in front of an audience – and an A Certificate.
Udta Punjab, directed by Abhishek Chaubey, is about the alleged drug menace in Punjab.
Kashyap, at the press meet, said, “Something that we have consistently seen that in such cases, the issue always gets lost, gets too political and people get too defensive. It kind of loses scope. This fight was about the film, about what we believed in. I think it stayed singular and the industry joined in”.
Kashyap said that the film industry was made soft targets. “I remember I was part of the film ‘Water‘ and there were a group of people who protested against the film and that group was formed overnight. It did not exist a day before, so these things happen. I feel we are the soft targets and I think we should stand up and say ‘Stop making us soft target’.”
A number of people from Bollywood had voiced their support for Anurag Kashyap and Udta Punjab. “I have never seen so many people come together. Seeing that response somewhere, they have also realised that industry always needed to come together. It became one this time. That has put pressure on them, ” said Kashyap.
At the press meet, questions were posed at the film’s stars, Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor, on their soft stance on the censor issue. Kapoor said that both, he and Alia were relatively new to the censor issue and wanted a more experienced voice to defend the film. ““I think me and Alia are still new to the censorship issue… So we chose to do it in a way that was as balanced as possible. I think the representation was not from the point of view of what will get more headlines but who will speak better and represent the film better. I have to thank Anurag for doing that,, ” said Shahid.
Meanwhile, Nihalani, on Tuesday, welcomed the Bombay High Court’s verdict, saying the producers had every right to challenge the decision. “We welcome the court’s decision. I congratulate the producers on their win. We stand by the producers. They will obviously go to a place where they can get relief. It’s their right,” Nihalani told reporters. Also, he added that he as performing his duty. “I will continue to do that as the rules given to us. I don’t watch the films. The file reaches me after examining committee watches it. I pass my judgement on the basis of it, like the court passed the judgement by seeing the script,” he said, according to a PTI report.