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Udta Punjab gets HC nod with one cut

By The Assam Tribune

MUMBAI, June 13 - The Bombay High Court today cleared the decks for the release of movie Udta Punjab, whose makers were locked in a dispute with the Central Board of Film Certification, after ordering deleting a urination scene and displaying a revised disclaimer. The court also came down heavily on the CBFC and asked it not to act like a �grandmother�, and change with times.

A division bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi directed the CBFC to certify the drug-themed film within 48-hour to enable the makers to release it on its scheduled date of June 17.

�Barring the deletion of the urination scene as directed by the board and modification of the disclaimer, the June 6 order passed by the CBFC�s revising committee directing for a total of 13 changes in the movie is quashed and set aside,� the court said.

The bench, however, refused to stay its order on a plea made by CBFC counsel Advait Sethna to enable the board to appeal against it in the Supreme Court, saying the filmmakers have already spent a lot on the movie and its promotion and distribution.

The court, which was hearing a petition filed by Anurag Kashyap�s Phantom Films challenging the CBFC order, came down heavily on the board for curbing a creative person�s work.

�Do not act like a grandmother. Change as per the times now. The CBFC need not be over-sensitive in the matter of art. The CBFC cannot stop creative people abruptly as it may discourage them. This will kill creativity. These days filmmakers are brutal, direct and straightforward. One need not treat them harshly just because of this,� the HC said.

The court further noted that the CBFC is not empowered by law to censor films, as the word censor is not included in the Cinematograph Act.

�Censor in common parlance means to certify a movie. Therefore, if by law the board is empowered to make changes, cuts, or deletions, this power of the CBFC must be consistently in consonance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Supreme Court directions,� Justice Dharmadhikari said.

As per the revised disclaimer, the Udta Punjab makers will have to delete reference to Pakistan. They will also have to make additions to the disclaimer to the effect that the movie, its characters and the filmmakers do not promote the use of drugs and abusive language, and that the film is only attempting to depict the reality of drug abuse.

On cutting out the urination scene, Justice Dharmadhikari said, �The CBFC is justified in directing deletion of the scene as the shot was unnecessary given the backdrop and the theme of the movie. Instead of this particular scene, the filmmaker could have taken recourse to other methods to depict the same.�

The court noted that it has read the film�s script and does not find anything in it that shows Punjab in a bad light or affects the sovereignty, integrity or security of India.

�It is undisputed that the CBFC possesses powers to call for cuts, changes, deletions in a movie while certifying it. These powers come into play if the film affects the sovereignty, integrity or security of India, foreign relations, public order, and or is likely to incite commission of an offence. There is a heavy burden on the authority to show that the restrictions imposed are reasonable,� the bench observed.

In the present case, the CBFC-imposed restrictions were not correct. The movie has to be seen as a whole and it was not permissible to take the characters, scenes and songs in isolation and out of context, the judges said.

It is open for a creative person to select the background, setting and accordingly weave the story. It is entirely on the creative person to choose the setting, pattern, underlying theme and storyline. � PTI

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