MUMBAI — The latest film to be subjected to the Central Board of Film Certification’s stringent censorship is the Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Diljit Dosanjh-starrer “Udta Punjab.” With 89 cuts and an order to remove all references to Punjab, the film has sparked a controversy that Bollywood filmmakers and stars are rallying behind.
Filmmakers Mahesh Bhatt and Karan Johar June 7 spoke out strongly against the censorship troubles that the film is facing due to its treatment of the issue of drug abuse in Punjab.
Directed by Abhishek Chaubey and co-produced by Phantom Films and Balaji Motion Pictures, “Udta Punjab” delves into how youth in the state fall prey to drugs.
Condemning how the CBFC has asked the makers to drop ‘Punjab’ from the film’s name, besides effecting as many as 89 cuts in the movie, Johar tweeted: “‘Udta Punjab’ speaks of the reality of our times... Censoring reality amounts to delusion. The fraternity has to stand by what’s right.”
A filmmaker with a strong opinion, Mahesh Bhatt, said: “Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance. Is Pahlaj Nihalani listening?”
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta, known for hard-hitting films like “Shahid,” shared: “What is this I’m hearing about? Makes me very, very angry. Delusion or collusion? Why is the establishment so scared of films that mirror reality? Can the truth defame a state? ‘Udta Punjab’ censored.”
The demand by the censor board is reportedly under pressure from the ruling Akali Dal-BJP coalition in Punjab, where the extent of the substance abuse is placed by several surveys at over 70 percent of the state’s 2.8 crore population.
Filmmaker Nikkhil Advani said: “I guess the next step will be to submit scripts for censorship. ‘Udta Punjab’ censored.”
Actress Soha Ali Khan commented: “Anyone who says that drugs are not a problem in Punjab is either unaware, complicit or has mala fide intention.”
Screenwriter Niranjan Iyengar was rather direct in his comment when he said: “If we applied the same censorship rules to our politics, 95 percent of our politicians will have to shut shop! ‘Udta Punjab’ censored.”
Happy with the support of tinsel town, Kapoor tweeted: “Overwhelmed with all the support #UdtaPunjab #freedomofexpression #drugsdimaadi.”
The film is slated to release June 17.