The Bombay High Court has overruled the cuts demanded by India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to upcoming Hindi thriller Udta Punjab, in a landmark ruling that will have a major impact on the state of film censorship in India.
The CBFC had demanded 89 cuts to the film, which portrays drug use in the northern Indian state of Punjab. However the Bombay High Court ruled that the film should be certified for release with only one cut – to a scene in which one of the characters urinates into a crowd.
The producers of the film – Phantom Films and Balaji Motion Pictures – took the case to the Bombay High Court after the CBFC objected to the use of words such as ‘Punjab’, ‘parliament’, ‘legislators’ and ‘elections’. The board also claimed the film questioned the sovereignty of India.
However, the Bombay High Court disagreed and stated that the board’s job is to certify films and not censor them.
“We have read the script in its entirety to see if the film encourages drugs,” the judge said. “We do not find that the film questions the sovereignty or integrity of India by mentioning the names of cities, or referring to a state or by a signpost.”
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, India’s minster of state for information and broadcasting, tweeted on Monday: “Govt committed to bringing about a perceptible change for better in the CBFC v soon; certification only, not censorship.”
At the beginning of 2016, the Indian government set up a committee to look at a revamp of the CBFC following a series of controversial decisions by current head Pahlaj Nihalani in 2015.
Directed by Abhishek Chaubey, Udta Punjab stars Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kappor and Alia Bhatt. India relaese is scheduled for June 17.