Udta Punjab row: Your job is to certify, not censor, Bombay HC tells board

As the CBFC remained firm on its stance seeking 13 cuts to the movie, the court suggested that the producers consider removing one scene.

Written by Ruhi Bhasin | Mumbai | Updated: June 11, 2016 5:16 am
Udta Punjab, Udta Punjab case, Bombay HC, Bombay HC udta punjab, udta punjab news, censor board, udta punjab cuts, entertainment news, india news Shahid Kapoor hopes that Udta Punjab, which addresses the issue of drug menace in Punjab, is made tax-free so that it could reach a wider audience.

The Bombay High Court Friday suggested that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has “a poor understanding of people’s mind” and that its job is not to censor but to certify content for public viewing.

A division bench of Justice S C Dharmadhikari and Justice Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi was hearing a plea filed by Anurag Kashyap’s production house, Phantom Films, challenging 13 cuts suggested by the censor board to the movie, Udta Punjab. After hearing both sides, the High Court said it will pronounce its verdict on Monday.

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As the CBFC remained firm on its stance seeking 13 cuts to the movie, the court suggested that the producers consider removing a scene which depicts the protagonist urinating in public. The senior counsel representing Phantom Films, Ravi Kadam, said they were willing to do so.

On the use of abusive language, Kadam said they were willing to add a disclaimer saying they do not promote or encourage use of expletives by any person in society. The proposed disclaimer will also mention that the film does not depict any state in particular, and that it does not propagate the use of drugs of any kind, Kadam said.

Asserting that there ought to be freedom of depiction, Justice Dharmadhikari told the board, “Your job is to certify a film for public exhibition.” He added that the board did not need to censor material and should leave censorship to the people. “There is poor understanding of people’s mind. Movies are now released in multiplexes and not single screens. People are tired with this overdose,” he pointed out.

“Your job is to guide the younger generation. Tell those manning the authority. The younger generation will not be impressed by this. Being critical is not going to help,” said Justice Dharmadhikari.

When CBFC’s lawyer Advait Sethna argued that the movie glorified drugs in the state, the judge asked why they had
not moved to ban the movie completely.

Saying that the censor board was providing publicity to the movie through this “unnecessary confrontation”, the judge said, “If the content is poor, the movie will not last. You have saved their promotional expenses. This is publicity as if nothing else is happening in the world.”

“There is a remote in your hands. Give it to the people. Whether it is cinema or TV, if they don’t want to watch it, they will switch it off,” the court said.

The court said that with the passage of time, things that are viewed by the public have changed. “A solemn function like a marriage has also been vulgarised. Have you seen how celebrations and marriages are shown, doesn’t this take freedom then? Sometimes you have to open your eyes and be direct. Is gyrating not shown in films?”

Asking why the board wanted to cut the word Punjab from the film, the court said, “What do you find objectionable in referring to the state?” Saying that such a deletion might present some difficulty, the judge asked the censor board to reconsider: “You have the right and opportunity.”

On the use of expletives, Justice Dharmadhikari said that if a truck driver is shown, he will speak in a rustic manner. When Sethna said the filmmakers had portrayed the drug issue in Punjab in a direct manner, the judge pointed out the young generation is “very candid”.

“You are presenting the movie to an audience and a generation which is very direct and candid and open. They (the
filmmakers) feel they have a very mature perception,” said the court.

Sethna also pointed out that they had suggested the cuts in accordance with the guidelines and the statutes, to which the court replied that films don’t do well because of abusive language. “There has to be a strong story. If it is a poor copy of a Western film, it won’t work. They are learning from their mistake,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

With regard to the deletion of the Punjab signboard, Sethna said, “The film starts with a scene showing a signboard and packets of drugs are being thrown from Pakistan to the Wagah border, which is why we want the signboard removed. It is defamatory.”

Kadam responded, “The film is based in Punjab. Their ways, clothes, all depict the mannerisms of the people of the state. They have not raised any objections to Pakistan as they don’t have elections there.” Kadam added that the real motive of the board was to seek deletion of any mention of Punjab and other cities, and the rest of the cuts had been suggested to disguise their real intent.

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  1. A
    Ankita
    Jun 11, 2016 at 3:31 am
    All these people here who find it so difficult to believe that CBFCor what we fondly call as "censor board", is there to certify a film and not censor it, here is what I have to so. Certify here means that, CBFC will decide based on the content that where it is suitable for only adult, or universal, or parental guide is required.lt;br/gt;And I don't uunderstand why it should be so difficult to believe this. Even their name states their purpose - Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)
    Reply
    1. A
      anunaybhtt
      Jun 11, 2016 at 4:49 pm
      Mr. Pahlaj Nihlani was the producer of movie "ANDAZ" 1994. Directed by Mr. David Dhawan, the movie, we all know is filled with vulgarity and icing of the cake is the song, "KHADA HAI, KHADA HAI...." Just don't want to offend any of the actors and the remaining crew of "ANDAZ", but I wonder and feel disgusting, "ULTA CHOR KOTWAL KO DAANTE."
      Reply
      1. B
        Babumoshai
        Jun 11, 2016 at 4:45 am
        CBFC head thinks people do not have brains. Certify it as A rated. Let adults decided whether they want to watch it or not.
        Reply
        1. D
          din
          Jun 11, 2016 at 7:58 am
          Would't it best if Bombay HC take over the job. Film director es exposed true PANJABIS Indias Drug HUB shame on Punjab and Punjabis, Sham on Congress for doing nothing for 65 years and became black money Mafia to destroy Punjab and built stani Shame on Congress Ghandhis. producer of films Shame on all of you who want to get ride of Centreboard and freedom of anarchy
          Reply
          1. I
            immanuvel
            Jun 11, 2016 at 11:49 am
            ic men should be removed from censor board....the judge itself said...nowadays the people are more matured...they have remote with them...if they dont want to see it...they will turn it off
            Reply
            1. J
              jayaram reddi
              Jun 11, 2016 at 12:58 am
              If the job is to certify why need a board? So stupid!
              Reply
              1. N
                Niladrinath Mohanty
                Jun 11, 2016 at 1:36 am
                What is certification? It is some authority to say that the material is good enough for viewing or consumption or exhibition. Now in the instant case the authority namely CBFC simply does not certify or refuses to certify without insisting on cuts or deletions then what happens. I am at a loss to understand. The w thing has a commercial angle and the talk about freedom of expression, democratic right etc is lt;br/gt;h o g wash.
                Reply
                1. D
                  Datta
                  Jun 11, 2016 at 6:43 am
                  Guess whose job description includes the following lt;br/gt;1. Criticise everyone but react with "contempt" to any one criticising yoult;br/gt;2. Take high moral ground while being part of one of the most corrupt systemslt;br/gt;3. Be an expert on every subject under the Sun, tell others how to do their job.lt;br/gt;4.Preach equality while but allow the rich to exploit every loop . Give special treatment to the mone.
                  Reply
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