'Udta Punjab': HC blasts CBFC for 'censoring' instead of 'certifying'; `liberal` ​Pahlaj Nihalani says he is not deciding authority

The Shahid Kapoor-Alia Bhatt starrer deals with the issue of how the youth in Punjab are succumbing to drug addiction.

'Udta Punjab': HC blasts CBFC for 'censoring' instead of 'certifying'; `liberal` ​Pahlaj Nihalani says he is not deciding authority

Mumbai: Censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani, who is at the centre of the row over "Udta Punjab", on Friday said the cuts suggested in the drug-themed movie were as per the guidelines and not influenced by him.

Downplaying his role in the controversy, Nihalani said he never imposes his views on the movies that come for certification.

"The film is viewed by the examining committee, not by me. We follow the guidelines and decide according to it. If a film fails to pass from the examining committee, then I watch it and decide whether it should go to the revising committee. That's the only role I have. I am not the deciding authority," he told reporters here.

"This is not about the personal decision of the chairman or his views. I have no individual authority. We act as per the guidelines. I am a very liberal person but I am not the only person to have a say," Nihalani added.

The film's producers are locked in a bitter battle with Nihalani for demanding multiple cuts in the movie besides allegedly asking them to remove Punjab from its title.

Aggrieved by the order of the revising committee of the board that suggested changes in the film before its scheduled release on June 17, the makers had moved the HC. The court will pass orders in the case on June 13.

When asked about the court's observations that the board was being overtly critical, Nihalani said, "The verdict is awaited. We cannot say anything right now."
Nihalani also denied asking for the removal of the word 'Punjab' from the title of the movie.

"Title was intact. We did not ask that it should be removed, only the references."

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has been in news for its controversial decisions be it proposing a list of 28 banned cuss words, demanding cuts in films like "Udta Punjab", "Jai Gangajal", "NH 10", "Dum Laga Ke Haisha", "Angry Indian Godesses" and even shortening the kissing scenes in James Bond movie "Spectre".

Earlier, lawyer Advait Sethna for the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) said one dialogue, "zameen banjar to aulad kanjar", was abusive.

To this, the division bench comprising Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi pointed out that films do not run on such content and modern audiences were a mature lot.

Sethna argued that the word "kanjar" showed Punjab in poor light as it was a highly productive state. He added that a dog in the movie was named "Jackie Chan".

The judges noted that all this was giving unnecessary publicity to the film and said people must be allowed to see things of their choice, be it cinema or television.

On Thursday, the court noted that the film was against drugs and was not "made with a view to malign the state or its people".

Directed by Anurag Kashyap, "Udta Punjab" stars Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor-Khan and Diljit Dosanjh. It is based on the menace of drugs in Punjab.

After the controversy over "Udta Punjab", Bollywood stalwarts have raised concerns over censorship and dangers to freedom of expression and hit out at Nihalani, with some prominent film personalities even demanding his ouster.

The Shahid Kapoor-Alia Bhatt starrer deals with the issue of how the youth in Punjab are succumbing to drug addiction.