The controversy over Shahid Kapoor-starrer Udta Punjab is giving publicity to the filmmakers and apparently does not glorify drug abuse, the Bombay high court told the censor board on Friday.
The court is hearing a plea of the producers who have complained about lack of communication from the board about the adult certification of the film by Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films and Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Motion Pictures.
The hearing comes amid growing outrage over the censor board’s proposed cuts to the movie, a move that many say violated free speech. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) reportedly asked the makers to drop references of Punjab and politics from the movie as well.
The board told the court that caution was essential. It argued that even the Hollywood blockbuster Jungle Book was given a UA certificate because some scenes frightened children. Films in the U/A category are suitable for unrestricted exhibition.
Questioning the board’s objections, the court said the movie apparently did not seem to be glorifying the use of drugs. It raised questions on the board’s objection to the use of ‘kanjar (loosely translated as illegitimate)’, saying the word was innocuous.
It said that Kapoor, who speaks the word in the film, has a rough character and can’t be expected to talk in a polished language.
Read: Paanch to Udta Punjab: Why censor board calls cut on Anurag Kashyap films
The board argued that while it was willing to tolerate ‘bad language’ by Kapoor’s character, others in the film must not be shown using cuss words.
A day ago, the court appeared upset with the censor board, saying: “We don’t understand this – delete this, delete that.”
The film, scheduled for a June 17 release, ran into trouble for the depiction of narcotics abuse and the use of expletives, joining a string of controversial movies that have undergone cuts or name changes in recent times due to cultural, political or religious reasons.
Analysts say the movie’s portrayal of drug addiction among Punjab’s youth might prove disastrous for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance, in the 2017 polls because of widespread discontent regarding the state government’s failure to tamp down on the problem.