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Udta Punjab row: ‘Adult with Caution’ category for restricted viewing suggested by Shyam Benegal panel

Udta Punjab Row: Benegal says ‘A/C’ movie will have restricted screening , such as in red light areas

Written by Alaka Sahani | Mumbai |
Updated: June 11, 2016 9:11:03 am
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“Adult with Caution’ or ‘A/C’ may be a new category for certification for films with excessive adult content, according to a recommendation by the Shyam Benegal Committee on Cinematograph Act/ Rules in an interim report submitted to Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley on April 26.

“Films with ‘A/C’ will have restricted viewing as they can’t be screened at cinema halls located near residential areas. We do not want to deny the filmmakers the right to screen their movies. When you do that, the movies go underground,” said veteran filmmaker Benegal, speaking a day after watching Udta Punjab, which he described as a “well-made” movie, at a special screening.

WATCH: Udta Punjab Controversy: Youth Has The Right To Know Drugs Are A Menace, Says Shahid Kapoor

According to him, the ‘A/C’ certificate could be the answer for films not found eligible for certification even though they opt for ‘A’ certificate.

However, he added, an ‘A/C’ certificate movie cannot be screened at most multiplexes as they are thronged by families. “An A/C movie can be shown in red light districts or other non-residential areas,” said Benegal, who has directed award-winning movies like Bhumika, Mandi and Nishant.


The committee’s report suggests two sections in the ‘Adult’ categories — A and A/C. While the regular ‘A’ certificate allows viewers of 18 years and above to watch a film, the screening of the A/C film, apart from barring the entry of under 18 movie-goers, would restrict the location of the film’s screening.

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Apart from the ‘U’ category, the committee has suggested two categories in U/A — U/A 12+ and U/A 15+. The first category allows viewers of 12 years and above to watch a certain film under parental supervision while the second allows viewers of 15 years and above to watch a particular film.

Asked about Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab, Benegal said that even though he does not usually watch movies like this, he found Chaubey a very “good and competent filmmaker” and the film well-shot. “The film talks about the effect of drugs on the youth,” he said.

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However, according to him, the subject of the movie is such that it tends to be “sensationalised”. He said, “At the beginning of the film, one is not sure whether to like the character of Tommy Singh (played by Shahid Kapoor), a Punjabi rockstar with drug addiction. However, as the story progresses, you end up rooting for him,” he says.

Udta Punjab, according to him, has a certain “shock value” for the audience. “Its lyrics are openly obscene,” he said.

Benegal does not agree that the number of cuts suggested by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to the film’s producers is a reflection of the unreasonable censorship that Indian filmmakers have been encountering, of late.

“In some ways, it is a reflex kind of situation. However, this particular film deals with a pressing problem and it is not a comment on the state of Punjab. Access to drugs is very easy in some parts of India. Since Punjab is positioned close to the border, drug movement to South Asia takes place through it,” he said.

According to him, Udta Punjab might have upset the state government because it hints at the collusion between a section of government authorities and drug mafia. “The fact remains that the government is doing a great deal to curb this menace,” said Benegal.

On January 1, Benegal was appointed at the head of a committee to lay down “a holistic framework for certification of films”. The committee is expected to “take note of best practices in various parts of the world and give sufficient and adequate space for artistic and creative expression, lay down procedures and guidelines for the benefit of the CBFC to follow”.

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