The Bombay High Court, on Friday, came down heavily on the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for the cuts ordered in the movie ‘Udta Punjab’ and observed that the board’s job is to certify films and not censor them.
In a scathing observation, the court asked CBFC that if it thinks the movie glorifies drugs, then why is it not banning the whole movie. Mincing no words in its observation, the court categorically told the CBFC, that whether its TV or cinema, the board should leave it to the people to decide whether the film is defaming a state.
Mr. Nihalani is in the eye of the storm for the 89 cuts he has inflicted on Bollywood film “Udta Punjab”, whose producer Anurag Kashyap and his Phantom Films have taken the board to court over it.
“The word censor is not anywhere in the act. Your power is to certify films for public exhibition,” the court observed.
A division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi suggested the producers to follow one cut asked by the board’s order – to delete a scene which depicts a character urinating in public, to be amended.
The producers’ counsel Ravi Kadam said, “Yes, we will amend this scene, it can be done. But we don’t agree to the cuts suggesting deletion of the use of cuss words. Many things are integral part of the film and it cannot be removed.” The producer also agreed to add a disclaimer stating that makers or the cast of the film do not support the use of expletives words.
As regards to the language used in the film, the court was in agreement with the producers that the words are used to portray the characters, “If two truck drivers are talking to each other they will surely not use polished language as some other person would have. Even the producers are aware of better language, but they are conveying a certain character.”
The court also came down heavily on the Censor board for suggesting multiple cuts saying under the Cinematography Act, there is no word as Censor, the board has only to Certify the film. “Let people who are the best censors, do the censoring,” it said.
Mr Nihalani, a film producer, has been severely criticised by the film fraternity and has been accused by political parties like the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party of attempting to stall the film at the behest of the BJP, an ally of the ruling Akali Dal in Punjab.
Both opposition parties have built their election campaigns against the Akali Dal-BJP alliance around the drug menace in the state.
Mr Nihalani had denied any political influence in the censor board’s decision on “Udta Punjab” saying, “The Centre never interferes with the censor board, there was no political influence.”