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Bombay High Court overrules Censor Board, clears 'Udta Punjab' with one cut

Mumbai, June 13 (IANS) The Bombay High Court on Monday overruled the CBFC recommended 13 cuts for Bollywood film “Udta Punjab” and cleared the film for release with one cut and three disclaimers by the filmmakers here.

The film’s co-producer Anurag Kashyap welcomed the court ruling and said “our stand has been vindicated on the issue”.

A division bench comprising Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi also directed the Central Board of Film Certification to issue an ‘A’ Certificate to the film which is scheduled for release on Friday.

“The court has set aside the 13 cuts demanded by the CBFCs’ Revising Committee and cleared the film for release with one cut — that of the hero shown urinating in public — which we had already agreed to cut earlier,” said a lawyer for the film producers who had filed the case.

He added that the court has ordered the CBFC to issue an ‘A’ (Adult) Certificate to facilitate the film’s scheduled June 17 release.

Earlier, observing that the controversial Bollywood film “Udta Punjab” did not have anything that questions the country’s sovereignty, the Bombay High Court came down heavily on the CBFC saying it has no powers to “censor” films.

The word ‘censor’ is not there in the board’s name (CBFC) and it should use its powers as per the Constitution and earlier Supreme Court verdicts, Justice Dharmadhikari and Justice Phansalkar-Joshi observed.

They further pointed out that the central theme of the film depicts the drug menace prevalent in a place (Punjab) and the worth of a film should be considered in its entirety instead of isolated factors like songs, dialogues, lines, words, etc, so there was no justification for deleting the word “Punjab” and other cities in that state.

It should be left open to the creative person to choose the backdrop, the theme and settings for the film and nobody can dictate to him how to make the film which is the underlying key to creative freedom, they further observed.

Besides, the film was made for mature, adult audiences, the freedom of creative expression is absolute and cannot be restricted by dictating to the filmmaker, the court noted.

The court’s observations came during the final hearing of a petition filed by Phantom Films, the producers of “Udta Punjab”, for various grievances against the CBFC.

Co-produced by Kashyap and directed by Abhishek Chaubey, “Udta Punjab” stars Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Diljit Dosanjh.

Among other things, Kashyap accused CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani of bullying and deliberately not certifying the film slated for release on June 17.

While the CBFC at one point demanded 89 cuts in the film, its Revising Committee brought down the number to 13 on June 6 — which has now been struck down by the court — paving the way for its release on Friday with one cut and three disclaimers.

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