HC blasts CBFC for ‘censoring’ instead of ‘certifying’ (Roundup)

Mumbai, June 10 (IANS) The Bombay High Court on Friday pulled up the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for insisting on ‘censoring’ films instead of ‘certifying’ them and demanded to know why it was not banning ‘Udta Punjab’ film if it was trying to glorify drugs.

Simultaneously, it asked the makers of the film to tone down the expletives and certain vulgar scenes to which the CBFC has objected as these alone cannot guarantee the film’s success.

A division bench comprising Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, which concluded the two-day hearing following a petition filed by the “Udta Punjab” producers, will pronounce its final verdict on Monday.

Coming down heavily on the CBFC, the court asked it not to be overly critical. This could kill creativity in the film industry.

Questioning the CBFC’s Revising Committee orders of June 6 to delete references to Punjab and other cities in “Udta Punjab”, the judges felt that by dropping references to Punjab from every dialogue or scene, “the crux fo the film would be lost.

“If the filmmaker wanted to be critical of a place or person, then these would have to be shown,” the judges point out.

“If the film is glorifying the use of drugs, then ban it entirely,” the judges told the CBFC, adding that people must be given the choice to view what they want to.

On the overdose of expletives or cuss words, the judges said these do not contribute to the success of a film as today’s generation is very direct, open and a lot mature.

“Films do not run on such content in this age, there must be a strong storyline and content. The modern generation won’t be impressed by all this. Many movies are failing in multiplexes because the audiences are bored with this overdose,” the court observed.

On the contrary, the court said that by passing such an order, the CBFC was giving the film undue weightage and publicity.

CBFC lawyer Advait Sethna has justified the decision to order cuts, remove all expletives and cuss words, axe references to Punjab and other cities, and delete scenes showing the hero urinating in public, terming them “vulgar and deplorable”.

The court suggested that while a scratching scene be deleted fully, the film-makers could display ‘disclaimers’ for the expletives or tone it down though that could not be expected if a rustic character is speaking out his mind.

Phantom Films counsel Ravi Kadam readily agreed to both the suggestions made by Justice Dharmadhikari and Justice Phansalkar-Joshi, adding that by the use of the expletives, the film-makers were merely trying to depict the real situation.

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

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.

–IANS

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