Just a couple of weeks before its release, ''Udta Punjab'' is deeply embroiled into a political controversy of sorts owing to its subject of substance abuse in Punjab. Ranging from the censor certification issue to political parties raising objection, the film has been suffering several obstacles, including the constant pressure for the removal of the word Punjab from the title. Now the makers, however, have decided to take a drastic step by moving the High Court.
After the Censor Board refused to certify the film owing to high amount of expletives and extreme visuals, the film was taken to the Revising Committee who too agreed to the Censor Board's decision of chopping off swearing and extreme visuals and ordered 90 cuts including the removal of the word Punjab from the dialogues and title. In fact, it further asked the makers to use the name of a fictional state instead. The makers have refused to bog down towards the claims of removal of Punjab from the title and have decided to approach the HC.
On the other hand, the Akali Dal, the current state government of Punjab, continues to fight against the film and, raise objections over the portrayal of the Indian state. Their opposition parties, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party have been constantly blaming the ruling party for the increasing substance abuse in the state, with that becoming an important topic of discussion in the upcoming election campaign.
It is known that the makers have decided to chop off a few mentions of Punjab in the dialogues. What remains to be seen is if the word 'Punjab' is indeed deleted from the film's title or no.
Going all against the censorship, is B-Town in the spotlight which has slammed the censorship committee on the issue.
Film-makers including Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt, Ram Gopal Varma among others have criticised the CBFC.
"#UdtaPunjab speaks of the reality of our times...Censoring reality amounts to delusion...The fraternity has to stand by what's right!!" Johar tweeted.
Sudhir Mishra, who has had his share of run-ins with the board, tweeted, "Lot of blood, sweat has gone into the making. The answer is to make brave films."
Bhatt said censorship is similar to ignorance. "Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance". Is Pahlaj Nihalani listening? The Censors says, I am the one who says the last sentence on UDTA PUNJAB. The nation can say what it wants, our verdict is going to stick. Why should I censor myself to nourish ignorance.’’
Actor Ranvir Shorey tweeted, "Dear @PMOIndia, please put an end to this constant BLACKMAILING of the film fraternity by the CBFC. Films aren't causing #India's problems!"
Ishaan Khattar, brother of Shahid Kapoor, too slammed the Committee's decision. ''There are many things I'd like to say about how massively disappointing the authorities have been, but for now I'd prefer to focus on how very important it is for our nation's people to watch this film and learn what it has to offer. I'm one of the many who've put their blood and sweat into making of the drug epidemic that's plaguing Punjab. I hope we can watch it the way it is meant to be watched.'’
Actor Kay Kay Menon said, ''I don't understand the logic. At age 18 you can vote, so you can take the decision of electing a Government at that age, which is far greater decision that watching a film. On being asked if the Censor Board has evolved over the years, said, "Let me not comment further than what I said. But kuch cheezein kabhi sudharti nahi.’’