The Censor Board of Film Certification in India continues to raise the bar when it comes to being incomprehensible. Earlier today, it “grounded” Udta Punjab, directed by Abhishek Chaubey, because it has bad language. No, an A-rating won’t satisfy the state-backed protectors of our delicate sensibilities; they’ve got to stop the film from releasing altogether. As the title suggests, the film is set in Punjab and one of the stories follows a drug-addled rockstar played by Shahid Kapoor. The film was scheduled to release on June 17, 2016. You can see the film’s trailer here:
Its official synopsis describes the film like this: “Udta Punjab is about the famed Punjabi spirit, that despite being slightly down, has the audacity of looking you in the eye and saying – Drugs di maa di!” Chaubey’s film follows four characters (a rock star, a migrant labourer, a doctor and a cop) who apparently have nothing in common. Aside from Kapoor, Udta Punjab stars Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Dilip Dosanjh. The film struggled to find backers initially because rumour has it that the original script had “shocking” amounts of violence (a Bollywood-loving birdie told us so).
There’s some speculation that Udta Punjab has got caught between the rock that is the conservatism of the current Censor Board and the hard place that is the upcoming Punjab elections. The film’s depiction of drug abuse is something that may have raised hackles and led to it being shot down the way it has. Drugs is a serious problem in Punjab, with every political party being forced to come up with plans by which widespread addiction can be tackled.
Producer Anurag Kashyap has said he is going to challenge the Censor Board’s decision.
As far as Udta Punjab goes, the only question is how much will have to be cut from the film for the CBFC to allow its release.