MUMBAI:It was a moment of relief for the director of Udta Punjab, Abhishek Chaubey. While saluting the courage of his producers and the hard work of lawyers he hoped the court order in favour of his film would ring in the larger good of cinema; that films would be viewed in their respective rightful contexts than fall under blanket scrutiny.
For Ameet Naik, lawyer for Phantom Films, it was a vindication of democracy and fundamental rights. “The only thing that we have conceded is the deletion of the urinating scene, which we had offered to do ourselves today. There are going to be three disclaimers that we have accepted in court. One, that we do not promote the use of drugs in any form or manner. Two, the expletives are not a reflection of anything else except reality. And three, we are not castigating any State or region,” he said.
Film-maker Shyam Benegal, who is also the head of the government-appointed Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) revamp committee, hoped the judgment will change things for the good and that the scissor-happy business will stop. “We are talking about cinema that is dealing with a problem in a serious way. It’s not a frivolous film. You can’t use scissors on a film like that as it’s addressing a social problem,” he added.
Need for restraint
“I think the HC is right with adding a word of caution for film-makers. They should seriously consider what they are doing, stand by what they have done,” he said.
The only censorship film-maker Hansal Mehta believes in is self-censorship.
“One of the takeaways from this whole issue is that we are capable of self-censorship. Have faith in us,” he said. For him the bigger issue is whether film-makers will keep going to court every time there is a censorship problem.
“It is ridiculous to go to court when there is a CBFC with two committees. Not every producer can afford to do this or go to the FCAT in Delhi, appoint a lawyer to argue on their behalf there. I couldn’t afford to do it during Aligarh and had to capitulate to Nihalani [chairman of the CBFC],” he recalled.
A source from the CBFC legal team said it is contemplating whether to move the Supreme Court. “They are entitled to take it to the SC if they want to. We will defend it tooth and nail,” said Mr. Chaubey. The big task ahead for the Udta Punjab team right now is to keep its original date with the audience — June 17.