The Bombay High Court on Monday ordered the Central Board of Film Certification to issue a fresh rating certificate to Bollywood film Udta Punjab within 48 hours and asked for one cut to be made in the movie. The ruling came after Udta Punjab's makers moved the court against the CBFC's list of 89 recommended cuts. It also asked the board to not act like a grandmother and change as per times, PTI reported.
The court had earlier observed that the CBFC "not empowered by law to censor films" because the Cinematograph Act does not include the word "censor". While hearing a plea filed by the producers of film Udta Punjab against an order of the CBFC, the high court said the board should use its powers to cut, delete or change scenes in movies in accordance with provisions in the Constitution and the Supreme Court's directions.
"Creative freedom should not be unnecessarily curbed. Nobody can dictate to a filmmaker about the content of his film," the high court bench observed. We neither found anything in the film that depicted Punjab in bad light, nor anything that would affect the sovereignty or integrity of India, as the CBFC claimed, it added.
Co-producers of the movie Phantom Films and Balaji Telefilms had moved the high court against the list of as many as 89 cuts the CBFC – better known as the censor board – had earlier demanded be made to grant the movie clearance. The board finally gave its go-ahead to the film with an "A" rating with 13 cuts earlier on Monday.
On Thursday, the court had criticised the controversy surrounding the film, saying there “should not be hue and cry over this”. It said the present generation wants to watch movies that deal with mature themes. The bench also questioned the list of cuts it the CBFC has demanded. “How can you ask them [the filmmakers] to delete words like MP, MLA and election?” it had asked.
The Shahid Kapoor-starrer sparked a row when the film certification board asked the producers to remove all references to Punjab except for in the title because the film, according to them, portrayed the state and the community in bad light. Scheduled for release across the country on June 17, Udta Punjab deals with the subject of substance abuse.
Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal has raised objections to the film and its depiction of the state. Media reports had suggested that the board's refusal to give certification to the film was politically motivated. Punjab's Assembly polls are scheduled for February 2017.