Bollywood director-producer Anurag Kashyap compared the Central Board of Film Certification's crackdown on Udta Punjab with restrictions in place in North Korea on Tuesday, a day after the statutory body reportedly asked the makers of the film to remove all references to the state from the film. Udta Punjab explores the issue of drug abuse in the state. Kashyap is one of the co-producers of the film, which is expected to hit theatres on June 17. The film is being jointly produced by Balaji Telefilms in association with Kashyap's Phantom Films.
Kashyap took to Twitter to air his ire, saying Udta Punjab was the most honest film and accused the people opposing it of being guilty of promoting drugs. The director-turned-producer, however, said the issue should not be made political. "I request Congress, AAP and other political parties to stay out of my battle. It's my rights vs the Censorship. I speak only on my behalf," he tweeted.
Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore reacted to Kahsyap's comments on the microblogging website, and said, "Apko lagta hai aap North Korea mai hain? Yahan vote le lete hain,democracy hai (You think you are in North Korea? This is a democratic system where people have the right to vote)." The minister, who holds independent charge of the Information and Broadcasting ministry, was talking about the censor board. He added that there are three committees for film certification now. The film in question is facing the reviewing committee at present. According to Rathore, the filmmakers can approach the Appellate Tribunal if they are not satisfied with the suggestions and observations of the reviewing panel.
Last month, the CBFC had refused to give its approval to the film. This forced director Abhishek Chaubey and the producers to approach the second level of appeal, an examining committee. This committee has allegedly demanded close to 89 cuts of expletives and anything that links the movie to Punjab.
With the Punjab assembly elections less than nine months away, the release of the movie could spell political trouble for the state's ruling party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, which has an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The SAD has objected to the film's depiction of the state's drug problem.