Hindi movie Udta Punjab, which was locked in a bitter row with the censor board, will release as scheduled this Friday, after the country’s highest court Thursday declined to stall the release of the film, which highlights Punjab’s drug problem.
Refusing to stall the film’s release, a vacation bench of the Supreme Court asked the petitioner, an NGO from Punjab, to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court where similar petitions were pending.
“We are not interfering in the matter. We are not going into the merit. Liberty (is) granted to the petitioner to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which is seized of the matter,” said the bench comprising Justice Adarsh K Goel and Justice L Nageswara Rao.
Later in the day, the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed similar petitions seeking a stay on the film’s release. “This (drugs) menace has reached all over the country. It has even reached Chennai schools… People have to realise… If there is a slight thing there (in movie), it is not going to affect,” said the vacation bench of the high court, while dismissing the pleas.
Replying to the petitioners’ apprehension that the film’s release will have adverse repercussions across Punjab, the bench, headed by Justice M Jeyapaul, said, “If there is repercussion, police is there.”
The court’s order came after amicus curiae Sanjay N Kantawala, who had watched the movie on the court’s direction, submitted his report. “The film does not in any manner portray a bad image of Punjab or Punjabis…I have not noticed anything objectionable in setting the film in Punjab, or indeed, titling as ‘Udta Punjab’,” the amicus curiae’s report stated. He said the film has to be seen as a whole by an adult audience who are capable of appreciating the issues conveyed by the film.
Responding to the argument of Punjab State Commission for Women which had also objected to the film’s release on the ground that Udta Punjab shows women of Punjab in poor light as being involved in drugs and parties, the amicus curiae, submitted, “Though the film script could have avoided the repeated use of extremely foul and abusive language, the film has no obscenity like scantly clad women exposing skin and body parts.”
The film highlights, in stark and unremitting detail, the perils and dangers of falling prey to drugs and other narcotic and psychotropic substances, but it does not glorify usage of drugs, added the amicus curiae.
On June 13, the Bombay High Court had cleared the release of Udta Punjab with the deletion of just one scene. The producers of the film had approached the Bombay High Court after the censor board had directed them to delete 89 scenes.