Shah Rukh Khan
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The hurdles do not seem to be ending for Udta Punjab. What started as rumors of the ban, has now become a full-fledged mud-slinging match between the CBFC chief, Pahlaj Nihalani, and the Bollywood fraternity. Today there was a press conference held by the IFTDA (Indian Film and Television Directors Association) to show solidarity and protest against the lack of freedom of expression provided by the censor board. Here is a lowdown of what has happened since yesterday, when the producers of the movie approached the High Court against the decision of the censor board on the release of the film.
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday posted the petition filed by Phantom Films - one of the producers of the movie 'Udta Punjab' - for further hearing on Thursday. The High Court allowed the company to amend its petition allowing them to challenge the Censor Board's order suggesting 13 cuts in the film.
Mukesh said, "We have had many differences with Censor. But what is happening today is wrong. We applied a month in advance and CBFC has applied all their brains to delay the movie. They are not giving in writing. It is a manipulating game. I am against the CBFC. Today they have got the letter of the cuts, just a week before the release. CBFC chairman is from the film industry and still behaving irresponsibly. I appeal to the I&B Ministry to remove him from the post."
He further added that when a film is made, lots of money are invested. Talking about the money invested and bearing the cost, Bhatt said, "Ekta Kapoor and Phantom have invested 60 crores in the movie. Who will bear the cost? We are held to ransom.
Ashoke Pandit, who is also a member of the Central Board of Film Certification, took to Twitter and appealed for the creative freedom of a filmmaker. He was also a part of the press conference held today where he openly slammed CBFC Chief Pahlaj Nihalani for his autocratic behaviour. The director also demanded an apology from the CBFC Chief as had alleged that 'Udta Punjab is funded by a political party.' Ashoke said that "We condemn the statement given by Pahlaj Nihalani and demand an apology. It is an insult to all and the entire industry.”
While Anurag Kashyap has insisted that politicians not interfere in the issue, he has got strong support from Delhi CM and AAP President, Arvind Kejriwal. So much so that Pahlaj Nihalani has suggested that Anurag Kashyap was paid by Kejriwal. To this Anurag Kashyap shot back saying, "Nihalani should prove I have taken money. He does not even know how to lie," and slammed the CBFC chief. AAP President Kejriwal said that movie shows the truth of Punjab and the movie must be released.
Pahlaj Nihalani final spoke to the media today and said. “Udta Punjab shows 70% of the people in the State consume drugs. The movie puts entire Punjab in bad light. The movie, the way it is, cannot be cleared because it is against the guidelines of the CBFC to defame any person or community,” defending the cuts he has issued in the movie Udta Punjab. He added that nearly "98 per cent of the movie is in Punjabi and based entirely in Punjab. It is not a Hindi film at all.’
Nihalani also took on Anurag Kashyap and sid, “What dictatorship is he talking about? Nearly eight movies of his have been released in the last one year. Not once has he come here. Every time he creates noise by creating such unwanted controversy to get attention to get his movies running," Sources in the censor board said the film is yet to be given a formal certificate and only verbal cuts were conveyed to the film makers on Monday. "The move was supposed to be cleared with an A grade and 89 cuts. We had communicated orally to the film makers who had agreed to come back with the cuts but they went to the media instead."
While the decision from the high court is still pending, one can only hope that Udta Punjab finally gets to see the light of the day.
By Ritambhara Dixit
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