Udta Punjab gets “grounded” by Censor Board

ByNL Team
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The Censor Board of Film Certification in India continues to raise the bar when it comes to being incomprehensible. Earlier today, it “grounded” Udta Punjab, directed by Abhishek Chaubey, because it has bad language. No, an A-rating won’t satisfy the state-backed protectors of our delicate sensibilities; they’ve got to stop the film from releasing altogether. 
As the title suggests, Udta Punjab is set in Punjab and one of the stories follows a drug-addled rockstar played by Shahid Kapoor. The film was scheduled to release on June 17, 2016. You can see the film’s trailer here: 
Its official synopsis describes the film like this: “Udta Punjab is about the famed Punjabi spirit, that despite being slightly down, has the audacity of looking you in the eye and saying – Drugs di maa di!” Chaubey’s film follows four characters (a rock star, a migrant labourer, a doctor and a cop) who apparently have nothing in common. Aside from Kapoor, Udta Punjab stars Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Dilip Dosanjh. The film struggled to find backers initially because rumour has it that the original script had “shocking” amounts of violence (a Bollywood-loving birdie told us so). 
There’s some speculation that Udta Punjab has got caught between the rock that is the conservatism of the CBFC and the hard place that is the upcoming Punjab elections. The film’s depiction of drug abuse may have raised hackles and led to it being shot down the way it has. Drugs are a serious problem in Punjab and a recent study by All India Institute of Medical Sciences calculated that Rs 7,500 crore worth of opioids are consumed in the state every year. Of this amount, an estimated Rs 6,500 crore accounts for heroin usage. Drug abuse is one issue that every political party in Punjab has to offer a solution to in its election campaign.
Producer Anurag Kashyap has said he is going to challenge the Censor Board’s decision. His argument is that the expletives that the CBFC is objecting to are integral to the film. 
The CBFC, particularly under Pahlaj Nihalani, has been making it a tradition of sorts to come up with incomprehensible and strict diktats. Its decisions have been problematic enough for the film industry to collectively complain against Nihalani to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. 
As far as Udta Punjab goes, the only question is how much will have to be cut from the film for the CBFC to allow its release.
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