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With Udta Punjab’s release date getting closer, the controversy surrounding this movie seems to be getting bigger. The movie is slated to release on the 17th of June and is a crime-thriller revolving around the rising drug menace in the state of Punjab. It deals with the life of four individuals who are being portrayed by Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Diljit Dosanjh.

The dispute began when the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asked the makers of the film to make 89 cuts in the movie which included the removal of cuss words, changes in dialogues and scenes. Moreover, CBFC asked the makers to remove the reference of Punjab from the film. This started off a big row with many people speaking out against the CBFC ban.

The ban also started off a censorship battle between the film’s producer, Anurag Kashyap and the CBFC. Many of the Bollywood elite like Karan Johar, Mukesh Bhatt and Zoya Akhtar have stood up in support of Kashyap. ”I demand on behalf of the entire industry… that the ministry should remove Pahlaj Nihalani,” Mukesh Bhatt was quoted as saying at a press conference held recently. Many journalists and film critics spoke out about the censorship battle as well.

udta-punjab-twitter-1Anurag Kashyap took to twitter to tweet “UDTA PUNJAB” to the prime minister, Narendra Modi. “My tweet to the Prime Minister was a cry of desperation. This is like the trial of Kafka,” Anurag was reported to have been saying. Kashyap says he hasn’t appealed to a film tribunal as the censor board has not recorded its objections to his film in writing as of yet.

Kashyap has blamed CBFC chief, Pahlaj Nihalani accusing him of “acting like an oligarch, a dictator” who is treating the “Censor Board like his North Korea.” Nihalani responded that Kashyap’s accusations against him are completely baseless and “If Anurag Kashyap thinks the board under me is like North Korea, so be it.”

Many critics say that the ban has been made due to the upcoming Punjab elections but Nihalani has dismissed these rumours saying it has, “nothing to do with Punjab polls.” Congress and AAP leaders have spoken up in support of Anurag Kashyap but he tweeted and requested them to stay out of his battles and find their own. “I request the Congress, the AAP and other political parties to stay out of my battle. It’s my Rights vs the Censorship. I speak only on my behalf,” is what Kashyap tweeted.

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udta-punjab-mos3_060716032130An exclusive screening of the film was held on Wednesday for noted filmmaker Shyam Benegal, who has submitted a report suggesting reforms in the Censor Board’s working.

The filmmakers have now decided to fight for the release without any cuts even if it means that they have to postpone the film. This is not the first time the CBFC has put up bans and various cuts in movies. They keep interfering with the film maker’s idea and creativity. The nation is awaiting the day that we can watch movies and, basically, use our freedom of speech and expression that we are unfairly being denied.

Update (9 Jun)