Mumbai: Bollywood has come out strongly in support of ‘Udta Punjab’ and has demanded an apology from Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairman Pahlaj Nihalani for alleging that the film’s co-producer Anurag Kashyap took money to show Punjab in bad light by highlighting the drug problem.
The actors and filmmakers addressed a press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday and condemned the Censor Board for asking for the deletion of any reference to Punjab in ‘Udta Punjab’ — an upcoming film on the drug issue of the state.
Soon after the ‘Udta Punjab’ makers moved the Bombay High Court seeking a copy of the Censor Board decision, the film world lashed out at Nihalani and his ‘vicious’, ‘malicious’ ways.
Top Bollywood directors Mahesh Bhatt, Imtiaz Ali, Satish Kaushik, Sudhir Mishra and Ramesh Taurani along with ‘Udta Punjab’ actors Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt tore into Nihalani’s defence for ordering cuts in the film.
Nihalani had earlier on Wednesday alleged that Kashyap may have taken money from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to show Punjab in bad light through his film ‘Udta Punjab’. Following the Censor Board’s decision to ask the makers for 89 cuts in the movie to get a release certificate, Anurag had condemned Nihalani for being an “oligarch” as head of the CBFC.
Ashoke Pandit, another CBFC member, slammed Nihalani for making such an “insulting remark”. While addressing the press conference, he said, “We condemn the statements made by Pahlaj Nihalani. The comments he made on Anurag taking money from political party is an insult to all the filmmakers and we need an immediate apology.”
Mahesh Bhatt also lashed out at Nihalani. He said what the ‘Udta Punjab’ cast is facing right now is “not an industry problem” but the “problem of our country”. “I feel that we should all stand up and articulate against the censor board. They are stopping us from expressing ourselves,’ he rued.
“I feel ashamed defending myself,” Kashyap stated when asked for his reaction to Nihalani’s recent statement.
“It is unfortunate that we have to justify our integrity and honesty as filmmakers. Censor Board has got a bullying attitude and they are resorting to lies to defend it. Have films become so bad that every film has to go to the tribunal? Audience has the right to except a movie — Censor Board can’t impose their view. It is the fight to save our freedom of expression. The audience has a right to reject films, the censor board should not be the judge of that. We have been reduced to a government approved stamp for every step we take.”