Udta ‘Democracy’, Take a Bow!!

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Udta ‘Democracy’, Take a Bow!!

‘Why hue and cry over Udta Punjab’ asked the Bombay High Court to the great Censor Board, rubbishing the appeal made on the grounds of ‘sensitive’ and ‘objectionable’ content being showcased in the film. Neither a simple pleader inside the court nor the judge could understand what the noise was all about – oh yes, the word ‘Punjab’.

Most Punjabis who love their once pure home ground now turning into a breeding zone for the addicts have loudly appreciated the idea of such a film. The subject that even a honourable Punjabi wants to be presented to the world, was slammed left and right by the CBFC. Was it the content or was it the characters? No sir, it’s about the obvious relevance to Punjab.

Many Bollywood films have been made earlier on the subject of drugs and junkies. Let us take the example of cult classic of the 70’s, Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Zeenat Aman showed her talent with a power packed performance, beating the likes of Dev Anand. People loved the refreshing subject that was mostly spoken in hush hush tone those days – divorced parents, deserted children.

The film had loads of scenes on dope, junkies, getting high and tripping. We are talking about the seventies here. India applauded the content that spoke boldly about the undercurrent issues of failing marriages and drifting children. Dope was one of the most important mediums to talk about, and it was done. Everyone went home, praising the director, loving Zeenat and shedding few tears of realization.

Many other films followed suit over years, talking about the drug abuse problem in the country. There were no specific targets, everything fictional. The underlying mission has always been to highlight social issues that had a tremendous bearing on the kids and the society.

Fast forward to many years later, Punjab is in shambles. Increasing number of drug addicts, growing recklessness and irresponsible law and order. The director in question took the concept and made a blow up of intense characters, blatant ground realities and the like. The stuff that most mature and sane adults would pay for to watch. Some of us would also love to educate our teen children, by means of this film.

Chuck the moral high ground and the cause, says the great democracy now. No sir, this is about Punjab. The word Punjab has become a matter of great sensitivity. Punjab signboards in the frames have caused anxiety to the panel. Take them down, said the Censor Board, clearly controlled by the vested interests who now take prime positions, political and societal.

Yes, the elections are also around the corner, and Udta Punjab is such a threat. BS, confirmed the Bombay High Court, cutting the concern to size and approving the film to be screened with not many cuts.

A battle that has been brilliantly won. People will now flock to the theaters to watch the film. The entire rigmarole and the charade of false facade has actually had served its purpose as a massive publicity for the film. However, the concern remains. How many more realistic films will be banned down the line, just because they threat and expose the ugly truths shoved under the carpets on this land?

The democracy is flying with rage, making the film makers live in the fear of expression. Udta situation, clearly. More is to come. Is Udta Punjab the first victim of side seat conservatism, we wonder.



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