Dust settles down in the Udta Punjab row

“Submitting to censorship is to enter the seductive world of ‘The Giver’: the world where there are no bad words and no bad deeds. But it is also the world where choice has been taken away and reality distorted. And that is the most dangerous world of all “ – Lois Lowry

Indian film fraternity has now entered a new era where both realistic films as well as commercial films are equally appreciated by audiences.  The success of Gangs of Wassepur, Lunch Box and Wednesday are few examples of the changes happening to the mind set of today’s audiences.  While that being said our Film Certification Process still suffers the same old stubbornness of the 70’s and 80’s that made creativity bleed. It was just a year before the CBFC has considered the words like “Screw” or “Harami” as objectionable words for the Indian audience. We all have witnessed how the Board is forcing the Indian audience to watch content which they feel as most suited for us, leaving no room for creativity or right of expression. The Board had repeatedly slaughtered creativity by determining the kissing scenes in Spectre as objectionable, deleting more than 15 minutes of KammattiPadam citing violence, or refusing to grant certificate to the movie Kadhakali citing partial nudity.  The recent addition to this list is the Shahid Kapoor starrer “Udta Punjab”.

Udta Punjab is a realistic cinema produced by Anurag Kashyap and Balaji Motion Pictures that showcases the evil of drug usage in Punjab and the connections of top political with the drug mafia. CBFC has slaughtered the film Udta Punjab by suggesting 94 cuts for granting an “A” certificate for the Film.  The following table details of cuts suggested by CBFC along with the bizarre grounds based on which the deletions were advocated by the Board:

SL No Cut Description


1 Delete sign board of Punjab in the beginning Section 2(iv)- the sovereignty and integrity of India is not called in question
2 Delete Punjab, Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Tarantaran, Jashanpura, Ambesar, Ludhiana, and Moga from background and dialogue wherever it occurs Section 2(iv)-  the sovereignty and integrity of India is not called in question
3 From Song no 1 delete the word Chittave and Harami everywhere Section 2(vii)- human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;
4 From Song no 2 delete Tom Di cock jevhechittichiti cock and coke cock in the entire song Section 2(vii)- human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;
Section 2(viii)-  such dual meaning words as obviously cater to baser instincts are not allowed
5 Delete the words Behendchod, Behenchodo, Bund, Tatte, Gandia, Gandu, Laudu, harazadi, madachod, chusahuaaam, kutti, maiyove, kudi, chode, lulli, gashti from everywhere including background wherever it occurs. Section 2(vii)- human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;
Section 2(ix)- scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented;
6 Delete the words “election”, “MP”, Party from party worker, MLA, Punjab, Parliament Section 2(xiv) –   the sovereignty and integrity of India is not called in question;
7 From Song No 3. Delete the visuals of scratching/itching side portion by Sardar Section 2(vii)- human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;
8 Delete the close up shots of injecting the drugs wherever it appears Section 2(vi)-scenes tending to encourage, justify or glamorise drug addiction are not shown;
9 Delete the shot of urinating by Tommy in front of crowd Section 2(vii) human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;
10 Delete the line Jamin BanzarteAulad Kanjar Section 2(vii) human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity
11 Delete the name of dog as Jacky Chain Section 2(xii)- visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups are not presented
12 First Disclaimer should be audio/video and to be changed as “The Film focuses on the rising menace of drugs and the war against drugs and is an attempt to show the ill-effects of drugs on today’s youth and the social fabric. We acknowledge the battle against drugs being fought by the Government and Police. But this battle cannot be won unless the people of India unite against the menace”.
13 Second disclaimer of fiction to be increased according to audio/video


Although, any comments on the grounds can be made only after watching the entire movie, it can be definitely stated that CBFC should start the practice of issuing speaking orders for the public to understand the reason behind its decisions. It would be really interesting to understand how the sovereignty and integrity of India would be called into question by depiction of names of cities or the term election or MLA in a film. Moreover, CBFC has a duty to explain to the public why it has allowed numerous movies to be released without deleting such names (Say Slumdog Millionaire).

The author cannot find any reasoned justified for citing Section 2(xii) of the Guidelines as a ground for deletion of the name of dog from Jacky chain. While it is true that the said name resembles the popular Hollywood star, I am perplexed how use of such a name can be considered as a word disrespectful of any racial or religious or other groups!! It would have some kind of justification if the deletion was suggested on the basis of Section 2(XVII) of the guideline dealing with words defaming an individual, although, that too is a far stretched interpretation.

With Punjab assembly elections at door step, the issue has already turned into a political debacle with Aam Admi Party and BJP throwing accusations at each other on the impartiality of the Board. The fact that the Board proposed a disclaimer that acknowledges the actions taken by the Government to curb drug issue actually raises eye brows regarding the impartiality of the Board.

The producers of the film have approached the Bombay High court regarding the impugned order. The court during the initial hearings observed that “multiplex audience is mature enough about the contents they chose to watch. Sometime to open eyes of people to all this menace, things have to be show directly. You are certification board not censor board. People don’t need censor they are biggest censors,”


The Bombay High Court on 13th June, 2016 cleared Bollywood film Udta Punjab for release with just  one cut and this is a huge victory for the producers of the film. The court also said “None can dictate to the maker how to make his film and what should be the context…It is entirely for them to choose the setting, the under-lying theme and story line.” The Bombay High Court has given primacy to creativity and freedom of speech and expression and the judgment will be one of the forerunners in establishing this fundamental right guaranteed by our constitution.

Authored by Nithin V

Sources: 1,2
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