Even as Udta Punjab finally released in theatres after a protracted and very public battle with the Central Board of Film Certification, Anushka Sharma’s own memories of her run-in with the “censor board” over her film NH10 are still fresh.
NH10 — Anushka’s debut as a producer — was given an ‘A’ certificate by the CBFC, after the team agreed to make nine cuts in the movie.
“Ours was (still) not such a bad case,” said Anushka, who is currently awaiting the release of Sultan. “I haven’t seenUdta Punjab yet, but my brother (Karnesh Sharma, who is also her partner in their production house Clean Slate) saw the film and was saying that we could have got NH10 passed without any cut had we gone to the High Court. At that time, we were told very silly things by CBFC, for instance, reduce hair-pulling by 20 percent! Now how was that possible? What is 20 percent? We couldn’t understand what they were saying, there was no reasonable conversation happening. Of course, we had to push our release which wasn’t cool but we didn’t let the film get diluted with the cuts imposed,” she added, in a conversation with Firstpost.
Anushka’s Sultan co-star Salman Khan, who was also present during this interview, added, “And after all this ruckus finally what happened? Udta Punjab got released na.”
Of the CBFC’s way of functioning, Salman said: “There is a ‘U’ certificate, there is the ‘U/A’ certificate and for both these certifications there are a certain number of cuts. Then you have an ‘A’ certificate where they can impose one or two cuts or maybe no cuts. Then there is also X, XX, XXX… people who want to watch those kind of films, let them watch.”
Salman had his own brush with the CBFC when Bajrangi Bhaijaan was to be released. “After all the promos ofBajrangi Bhaijaan were ready, the CBFC asked us to change the title and we asked why. My simple reasoning was, if Bajrangi was going to Maharashtra, the title would have been Bajrangi Bhau, if he was heading towards Uttar Pradesh, then we would have picked Bajrangi Bhai and if it was Punjab then we would have gone for Bajrangi Paaji. But we were showing him going to Pakistan, so we had to call him Bajrangi Bhaijaan. What is the big issue? If CBFC feels that there could be law and order problem in the country, then they should not take it ahead and give the matter to respective bodies to deal with.”
Anushka added that she believed a system of certification rather than censorship was the need of the hour.
“People are intelligent, films are categorised as ‘Adult’ for a reason,” she said. “We know what we are watching, what is right and what is wrong. We have the power of reasoning within us. Let’s not assume that everybody is dumb and foolish, we are not children so we shouldn’t be treated like one. Secondly, if you put restrictions on a creative person and tell somebody ‘don’t think this way’, then you will never be able to create something great. You have to give filmmakers some liberty. Nobody is doing things just for the heck of it, no one is abusing because they feel like it. That is the way people talk in certain regions. When we were shooting NH10 in Haryana, every third word in their spoken language was an abuse, that is their normal way of talking. You can’t show characters talking with lot of respect in movies. What we are showing is reality within reasonable restrictions. But 89 cuts and then the film (Udta Punjab) is passed with one cut…obviously the CBFC guidelines have to change.”