Mumbai: Over 30 online petitions started by people across the country are demanding the release of an uncensored version of “Udta Punjab“. The petititons on the website Change.org are in the wake of the controversy in which the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) initially demanded 89 cuts, which were then brought down to 13 by its Revising Committee. However, the movie’s makers are fighting against the censorship, for a due certification.
The biggest petition, with the hashtag SackNihalani, was started by Mehakpal Singh from Amritsar. It has drawn the support of nearly 35,000 people in four days. In his petition, Singh says: “‘Udta Punjab’ shows the dark reality of youth in Punjab and every Punjabi wants that the plight of Punjabi youth to be improved. We want to see the movie without any cuts.”
While most of these petitions express anger at undue censorship by CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani, three of these specifically demand Nihalani to be sacked. According to another petition filed by Shriya Desai, “Pahlaj Nihalani has been treating the censor board like his personal fiefdom”. The petition also reads: “He has taken arbitrary decisions, sometimes without even watching movies. He has embarrassed the movie industry, the Central Government and the Indian people. It’s time to fire him.”
While these two categories of petitions continue to trend on Change.org, Jayashree B, a mother of two boys, started a third element of debate on the CBFC — random certification. In her petition, Jayashree says she recently took her sons to a Tamil movie branded as science fiction, because it had been given ‘U’ certification. However, the movie featured violent and disturbing scenes inappropriate for young children.
On the other hand, a movie like “Udta Punjab” that “challenges status quo”, receives heavy cuts. “Why does the ‘Censor Board’ treat children like adults and adults like children,” Jayashree has questioned in the petition.
The “Udta Punjab” controversy has brought forward many filmmakers, actors and most of all common people who have questioned the role of the censor board. Even the Bombay High Court on Friday pulled up the CBFC for insisting on ‘censoring’ films instead of ‘certifying’ them.