Bollywood unites to save Udta Punjab from Pahlaj Nihalani

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Prominent Bollywood filmmakers today threw their weight behind Abhishek Chaubey's Udta Punjab, which is fighting for a certificate from the CBFC.

In an unprecedented show of unity, prominent Hindi film directors and producers came together to put their weight behind Udta Punjab, young director Abhishek Chaubey's take on the drug menace in Punjab. The Bollywood fraternity, often accused of not standing for each other, held a press meet on Wednesday afternoon because as Mukesh Bhatt put it, what was happening to Udta Punjab was 'unprecedented'.
The Abhishek Chaubey-directed film is currently waiting for a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Earlier today, the producers of the film moved the Bombay High Court seeking a copy of the order of the Censor Board Review Committee report on the film. Kashyap has also appealed to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.

Veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said, "We can't turn into a Saudi Arabia where there is opulence but no free thought in society."

Shahid Kapoor, who plays the lead role in Udta Punjab, was also present at the press conference. He said, "We all need to support the message this film is sending."

The filmmakers also spoke on Pahlaj Nihalani's comments on television today. Nihalani had accused Kashyap of taking money from the Aam Aadmi Party to portray Punjab in a negative light in Udta Punjab.

The association demanded an apology from Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani for his comment.

The Association, led by president Ashoke Pandit, a BJP supporter, demanded the apology after Nihalani suggested that Kashyap might have taken money from the Aam Aadmi Party to show Punjab in a poor light through his co-production.

AAP is a major player in Punjab, which will see elections next year.

"We condemn the statement (by Nihalani). We demand an apology as soon as possible. This is not just an insult to Kashyap but to the film industry as a whole," said Pandit, also a member of the Central Board of Film Certificate (CBFC) which Nihalani heads.

Mahesh Bhatt, Mukesh Bhatt, Satish Kaushik and Sudhir Mishra represented the veteran generation while new-age directors Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar, Rahul Dholakia were there too to stand by fellow filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Vikas Bahl, who are producers of the film, along with Ekta Kapoor of Balaji Films.
Zoya said the film should be released as it is. The CBFC has demanded 89 cuts and a title that doesn't mention Punjab.

Mukesh Bhatt said, "I'm exposing a vicious system that is prevailing in the CBFC today. This has to be rectified ASAP. The film industry doesn't want Pahlaj Nihalani as the CBFC chief."

Filmmaker Imtiaz Ali said, "We don't know what is in the film. Anything that attacks the freedom of speaking is very frustrating and I don't think we have to tolerate it."

Udta Punjab is slated for a June 17 release.