The Bombay High Court today cleared the decks for the release of movie ‘Udta Punjab’, whose makers were locked in a dispute with the Central Board of Film Certification(CBFC), with just one cut and a revised disclaimer.
The court came down heavily on the CBFC and asked it not to act like a “grandmother”, and change with times.
A division bench of Justices, S C Dharmadhikari and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, directed the CBFC to certify the drug-themed film within 48 hours to enable the makers to release it on its scheduled date.
“Barring the deletion of the urination scene as directed by the board and modification of the disclaimer, the June 6 order passed by the CBFC’s revising committee directing for a total of 13 changes in the movie is quashed and set aside,” the court said.
The bench also refused to stay its order on a plea made by CBFC counsel Advait Sethna to enable the board to appeal against it in the Supreme Court, saying the filmmakers have already spent a lot on the movie and its promotion and distribution.
The court came down heavily on the board for curbing a creative person’s work.
“Do not act like a grandmother. Change as per the times now. The CBFC need not be over-sensitive in the matter of art. The CBFC cannot stop creative people abruptly as it may discourage them. This will kill creativity. These days filmmakers are brutal, direct and straightforward. One need not treat them harshly just because of this,” the HC said.
According to a Hindustan Times report, the High Court said, “Adults won’t be tempted to use cuss words simply because they heard it in the movie. The story of Udta Punjab is depicted through fictional characters that have no connection with real life.”
The court further stated 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 is empowered to make cuts, it must remember that its job is to certify and not censor,” High Court said.
“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 added.
The high court has ordered ‘Udta Punjab’ makers to remove reference to Pakistan and to make addition to the Disclaimer so it does not promote use of drugs and abusive language.
(With inputs from PTI)