After being locked in a bitter censorship row, the drug-themed Bollywood film ‘Udta Punjab” will hit the screens as scheduled tomorrow with the Supreme Court and Punjab and Haryana High Court today paving the way for its release but its online leak sparked a fresh spat.
Anurag Kashyap, the film’s co-producer who has been at the forefront of a battle with the Censor Board, and several filmmakers also appealed to people not to watch it online.
The Supreme Court refused to entertain the plea of an NGO seeking stay on the film’s release and asked it to approach Punjab and Haryana High Court which is seized of the matter.
The Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Diljit Dosanjh starrer that delves into how a large number of youth in Punjab have succumbed to drugs had also triggered a political slugfest and multiple legal battles.
A vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and L Nageswara Rao granted liberty to the NGO, Human Rights Awareness Association to approach the High Court with its prayer.
“We are not interfering in the matter. We are not going into the merit. Liberty granted to the petitioner to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court which is seized of the matter,” the bench said. The Bombay High Court had already cleared the film with a cut.
In Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed two petitions filed against the film’s release.
The vacation bench of Justice M Jeyapal dismissed the petitions, counsel for the producer said.
“Based on the report submitted today, the high court has taken a decision that the film will be released tomorrow and then dismissed the petitions filed against the release of the movie,” counsel Sanjay Kaushal said.
He said the high court noted that the film did not glorify drugs. “Drug menace can be there in any state and the film does not glorify drugs,” said the counsel.
Amicus curiae advocate Sujoy Kantawala, who watched the movie on the directions of the high court, also presented his report to the bench.
“I have clearly mentioned in my report which was read out in open court that there is absolutely nothing in the film which could lead any such sort of apprehensions which the petitioner entertained,” he said.
As the film was set hit the theatres tomorrow, the online leak of the film prompted Anurag Kashyap to say that he believed it was a case of vested interests “trying to demoralise” the filmmakers in their fight.
The film’s producers yesterday lodged a complaint with the cyber crime police in Bandra yesterday.
The entire film has been leaked on various torrent websites with ‘for censor’ written on the top left corner of the copy, as questions cropped about about any role by the Censor Board in this regard.
“I am not sure whether it was a CBFC copy. But if it’s a censor copy then it’s a shame on CBFC, it reflects very badly on them. Piracy is an an issue, which we all have been fighting for a very long time,” superstar Aamir Khan said.
CBFC chief Pahlaj Nahalani, on his part, said “rumours” about the online leak should not be believed. “Please understand the procedure rather than believing in rumours,” he said.