Chandigarh: Names of Punjab’s cities, the name of the state itself and a dog named Jacky Chain – these are just a few of the 94 cuts that Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has demanded in the adults-only Udta Punjab.
“The film focuses on the rising menace of drugs and the war against drugs and is an attempt to show the ill-effects of drugs on today’s youth and social fabric. We acknowledge the battle against drugs being fought by the government and the police. But this battle can’t be won unless the people of India unite against the menace.”
The board has given 13 suggestions to film’s producers, which effectively mean a mammoth 94 cuts, along with an A certification for the film that focuses on Punjab’s drug problem.
Udta Punjab’s co-producer Anurag Kashyap tweeted late on Wednesday that the suggestion of CBFC is a 13-pointer list that demands 94 effective cuts in the film starring Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh.
The board has asked names of nine cities including Jashanpura, Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Tarantaran, Moga and Ludhiana to be deleted from the film, along with a scene where a signboard says ‘Punjab’.
The board has also objected to around 20 abusive words including ‘k*tti’ (bi***), chitta ve (a slang for drugs) and har**mi (bas****). They also want the words election, MP, MLA and Parliament taken out from the film.
The CBFC, headed by Pahlaj Nihalani, also has a problem with a dog being named ‘Jacky Chain’ as it appears to be named after the Hollywood star Jacky Chan. The makers have also been asked to remove ‘objectionable scenes’ from the third song in the movie and to delete close-up shots of people injecting themselves with drugs.
CBFC has said that a scene showing the hero (Shahid) urinating in front of a crowd needs to be removed and a disclaimer added in the movie which reveals ‘efforts made by the government to tackle drug problem.’ The Indian Express reported that the disclaimer to be included should read, “The film focuses on the rising menace of drugs and the war against drugs and is an attempt to show the ill-effects of drugs on today’s youth and social fabric. We acknowledge the battle against drugs being fought by the government and the police. But this battle can’t be won unless the people of India unite against the menace.”
These cuts come despite the CBFC giving the film an ‘A’ certification that technically means the film can only be watched by adults.
With Punjab due for state elections, the controversy has assumed political overtones. The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which fancies its chances in the northern state, criticised the board. The two parties also accused Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP alliance of exercising influence to “censor” the movie.
The SAD government, an NDA partner in power in Punjab for nine years, says the film tarnishes the image of the state and its people.
Barbs engulfed the bitter censorship row over Udta Punjab after Nihalani suggested that Kashyap took money from Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP to make the movie, a charge the party dismissed promptly. The Delhi chief minister said Nihalani’s allegation proved he had acted against Udta Punjab, a dark drama on drug menace in the state, under “instructions” from the BJP.
“Nihalani’s statement makes it amply clear he has stopped the film on BJP’s instructions … What else could one expect in the Modi regime,” he said.
Nihalani denied he was under pressure from the Centre to censor the film. The board was being allowed to do its job, he said.