Indian Bollywood film director Anurag Kashyap addresses media representatives during a press conference organised by IFTDA (Indian Film and Television Directors Association) on the Hindi film ‘Udta Punjab’ in Mumbai on June 8, 2016.
Indian filmmakers have taken a bitter censorship row to court, the latest dispute involving the notoriously sensitive censor board that has renewed fears over creative freedoms. A lawyer told Mumbai's highest court the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had demanded 13 cuts to "Udta Punjab", a Bollywood movie depicting drug addiction in Punjab state.
 / AFP PHOTO / SUJIT JAISWAL
Indian Bollywood film director Anurag Kashyap addresses media representatives during a press conference organised by IFTDA (Indian Film and Television Directors Association) on the Hindi film ‘Udta Punjab’ in Mumbai on June 8, 2016. Indian filmmakers have taken a bitter censorship row to court, the latest dispute involving the notoriously sensitive censor board that has renewed fears over creative freedoms. A lawyer told Mumbai's highest court the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had demanded 13 cuts to "Udta Punjab", a Bollywood movie depicting drug addiction in Punjab state. / AFP PHOTO / SUJIT JAISWAL

Censor Board’s skewed reasoning for cuts out in the open ,Court asks CBFC to justify cuts.

Mumbai : The Bombay High Court has directed the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to justify the numerous ‘cuts’ suggested by the board’s Revising Committee to the makers of the controversial film Udta Punjab. The directions come after the court noted the legal grounds cited by the Revising Committee to support the 13 cuts it has suggested.

One of the grounds cited by the committee while recommending deletion of words like Punjab, Elections, Party etc is that the said depiction can harm the integrity of the nation! In the case of some other ‘objectionable’ words, the board has covered itself with the fig leaf of ‘obscenity’ and ‘vulgarity.’

“We want you to explain how will the use of the words ‘Punjab’ ‘Elections’ etc adversely affect the sovereignty and integrity of the nation?” the bench asked. Responding to the court’s query, the CBFC counsel sought time for giving a detailed explanation and accordingly the court adjourned the matter till Friday.

On Thursday, the CBFC also submitted a copy of the decision of the board, including the reasons cited of the 13 cuts, before the division bench of Justice Satyaranjan C Dharmadhikari and Justice Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi.

After examining the copy, the bench asked CBFC’s counsel to justify the  deletion of the word ‘Punjab’ in the title of the film and the other references made to the state, including some of its towns.

The bench observed, “There are so many movies wherein the state of ‘Goa’ is depicted as a hub of drug menace, worse than that in the current movie. There have been movies with such titles as ‘Go Goa Gone’ which is again related to drugs. There have been movies which have maligned the image of the state and also defamed the people of the state; where was your board when those movies were being made?”

The bench also pulled up the CBFC saying, “You pick up one scene and ask the producer to delete one particular name instead of the entire scene.” Meanwhile, senior counsel Ravi Kadam, who represented Phantom Films, justified all the scenes which they have been asked to delete.

Terming the suggestions put forth by the CBFC as ‘arbitrary’ and ‘without application of mind’ Kadam told the court that the board did not give any opportunity to the producers of the film to justify the scenes. However, the CBFC counsel refuted the allegation and told the court that the board had asked the producers to make an oral submission.

Kadam informed the court that the central idea of the film was based on the drug menace in Punjab and how the people in the state were falling prey to drugs. He said, “This is an integral part of the film and it cannot be deleted.” However, the court has asked the board to justify the rationale behind the cuts in the next hearing which is scheduled for Friday.

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