Hell yes, we want ‘Udta Punjab’!
As far as Hindi cinema is concerned, we are living in very interesting times. The biggest pointer to this is the fact that Salman Khan, one of the biggest superstars previously known for mindless money-spinners is doing films like ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘ and ‘Sultan’ – projects that are well-intentioned, have a story, and are not lazily riding on his superstardom. The indie films being made are also earning accolades at most of the prestigious film festivals all over the world. Coming to the point, we have very few filmmakers who have a unique voice, and do not play to the gallery by making formulaic films that provide ‘wholesome Entertainment‘ . A few names in this league that come to mind are Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Hansal Mehta, Sriram Raghavan and Ashutosh Gowarikar.
Thanks to these filmmakers, so many superstars have ventured out of their comfort zone and did films that got them the much-needed critical acclaim. It is a leap of faith for both the stars as well as the audience. These filmmakers have brought respect to Hindi cinema not only in India, but internationally as well. One thing that is depressing and stifling creativity of such stalwarts is the fact that the censors are being far too unreasonable. The moment the news about director Abhishek Chaubey’s Shahid Kapoor-Alia Bhatt-starrer, ‘Udta Punjab’ getting banned came out, it has lead to an uproar by film fanatics. Films that are borderline soft porn, like ‘Mastizaade’, ‘Kya Super Cool Hain Hum’ and ‘One Night Stand’ get an easy release, but ‘Udta Punjab,’ an important film of our times is getting banned.
The Censor Board is not even providing a valid explanation to this ban on ‘Udta Punjab’. Why can’t adults watch a film that has “excessive swearing, abusive language and drug consumption”? The film is only showcasing what exists in real life – isn’t cinema a reflection of the reality that surrounds us? Why should such solid facts be swept under the carpet? Why should we pretend that the drug problem in Punjab doesn’t exist? If a state of our own country is in trouble, why should other states not come forward, take a look at it, and offer some help if possible? The people in power perhaps don’t think so – or may be the rot is so deep set, that they think there’s no point in looking for a solution.
Shiromani Akali Dal says ‘Udta Punjab’ shows Punjab in poor light. After watching the trailer, an MLA from the same party said ‘this film is an outcome of a trend to defame Punjab and its youth.’ Incidentally, AAP’s primary agenda to win the next state election in Punjab is the drug abuse issue. Whatever is happening at the political level is besides the point, but they can’t take away the freedom of making a film and showing it to an audience that is mature enough to not burn down theatres that show horrible films like ‘Veerappan’.
There is so much at stake for the makers and the star cast of ‘Udta Punjab,’ it will be a really sad chapter in the history of Indian cinema if it does get banned. What do you think about this random ban? Do share your thoughts in the comments’ section.