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Row over 'Udta Punjab' escalates, Anurag Kashyap calls Censor chief dictator

The Row Over Drug-themed Bollywood Film “Udta Punjab' Slated For Release On June 17 Escalated Today With Co-producer Anurag Kashyap Hitting Out At Censor Board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani, Calling Him “oligarch' And “dictator' And That It Was Like Living In North Korea.

PTI | Updated on: 07 Jun 2016, 11:10:48 PM

New Delhi/Chandigarh:

The row over drug-themed Bollywood film “Udta Punjab” slated for release on June 17 escalated today with co-producer Anurag Kashyap hitting out at Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani, calling him “oligarch” and “dictator” and that it was like living in North Korea.

The Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Diljit Dosanjh starrer movie that delves into how the youth in Punjab have succumbed to drugs, also unleashed political sparring, prompting Kashyap to ask parties to stay away from the censorship row. Punjab goes to polls next year.

The makers of the film are said to have been asked by the Revising Committee of the Censor Board to remove all references to Punjab and to make 89 cuts. Kashyap, however, said they are waiting for an “official letter” from the Board in this regard.

Kashyap got the support of several filmmakers including Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt, Ram Gopal Varma and Mukesh Bhatt.  “It is a dark day for freedom of expression and creativity in the country,” Mukesh Bhatt said, calling Nihalani a “stooge” of the government.

The “Bombay Velvet” director took to Twitter to vent his ire at the Censor Board and said there is no sense of freedom.

“I always wondered what it felt like to live in North Korea... Ab to plane pakadney ki bhi zaroorat nahin...,” he posted on Twitter.

“I request Congress, AAP and other political parties to stay out of my battle. It’s my Rights vs the Censorship. I speak only on my behalf.”

The “Gangs of Wasseypur” helmer, who often faces the burnt of censorship, says his fight is not against the Censor Board.

“It’s my fight Vs a dictatorial man sitting there operating like an oligarch in his constituency of censor board, that’s my North Korea,” he said.

“Rest of you go pick your own fights. I will fight mine.  So please don’t colour my fight with any political affiliation because there is none.” The movie is produced by Kashyap’s Phantom Films and Ekta Kapoor-led Balaji Films.

AAP and Congress accused Punjab’s ruling SAD-BJP alliance of exercising its influence to “censor” the movie, a charge denied by the state government.

Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs Minister Sohan Singh Thandal said, “any movie or film which is not in the interest of state and which tries to defame Punjab should always be opposed.”

Punjab BJP Chief and Union Minister Vijay Sampla hailed the move of the Censor Board and any attempt to defame Punjab, which is a foodbowl of the country, should be dealt with sternly.

Attempts to reach Nihalani over phone were met without success. When contacted, I&B ministry officials said the CBFC is independent when it comes to certification of films.

The ministry is, however, re-looking at the entire process of certification of films in the light of the Shyam Benegal committee report which had given its suggestions recently, they added.

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First Published : 07 Jun 2016, 11:07:00 PM

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Udta Punjab