Shahid Kapoor-Alia Bhatt starrer Hindi film ‘Udta Punjab’ is still battling it out with the Censor Board scissors before it manages to put across its message on drug menace in the northern state to the audience on June 17 (the scheduled release date).
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), better known as the Censor Board, has slapped the film with a list of 94 cuts and 13 pointers just prior to its release, triggering a row between its co-producer Anurag Kashyap and Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani.
Here is everything that you may want to know about the film:
1. Apart from Shahid Kapoor, who plays a high-on-drugs rockstar named Tommy Singh and Alia Bhatt, who plays a Bihari migrant called Kumari Pinky, the film stars Kareena Kapoor Khan as Dr. Preet Sahani and popular singer-actor of the Punjabi film industry, Diljit Dosanjh as cop Sartaj Singh.
2. The film’s story revolves around the drug abuse in northern Punjab and how the youth are getting addicted to it.
The film was a result of four years of research by the team on how Punjab can become the next Mexico if the situation persists.
3. The film’s music was composed by Amit Trivedi and the rights were sold for a whopping Rs. 18 crore, one of the biggest such deals in the history of Bollywood.
4. The Censor Board denied to give a release certificate to ‘Udta Punjab’ citing “excessive swearing, abusive language and drug consumption” shown in the Balaji Motions film.
5. Ex-couple Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor Khan are sharing the screen after nine years. Their last on-screen venture was ‘Jab We Met’ (2007) after which they decided to part ways in real life and were rumoured never to work together again.
6. All actresses who were approached by the filmmakers declined to do the non-glamorous role of a Bihari migrant in a dark film till Alia Bhatt stepped in and got fitted in the shoes of her character. She even learnt to speak Bhojpuri for the role.
7. For the first time, Shahid will be seen letting go his gentleman looks and sporting a grungy look with long matted hair, beard and moustache; his shirtless, chiseled body inked with multiple tattooes.
He will be seen snorting drugs in-between his rock performances and mouthing swear words.
8. The Bombay High Court, whom the makers had approached for the release of the film, found the film was not meant to malign Punjab or its people.
It has asked the Censor not to be so critical with its scissors and instead certify films under the available categories. The final order of the court will be passed on June 13.
9. Top filmmakers of Bollywood like Ashoke Pandit, Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar, Mukesh Bhatt and Sudhir Mishra came out in full support of the film and even held a press conference to put across their views.
Mukesh Bhatt, who is the head of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India, alleged the Censor’s recommendations were a “complete conspiracy to sabotage” the film and demanded the removal of Pahlaj Nihalani.
10. The row turned political when AAP supremo and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, Pahlaj Nihlani’s statement makes it amply clear that he has stopped the film on BJP’s instructions… What else cud one expect in Modi regime?”
11. To this, Anurag Kashyap tweeted: “I request Congress, AAP and other political parties to stay out of my battle. It’s my Rights vs the Censorship. I speak only on my behalf.”
He further posted: “It’s my fight Vs a dictatorial man sitting there operating like an oligarch in his constituency of censor board, that’s my North Korea…Rest of you go pick your own fights. I will fight mine…So please don’t colour my fight with any political affiliation because there is none.”
12. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come out in support of the film. PMO India tweeted: “Art can’t have any restrictions or limits: PM @narendramodi”. To which, Anurag Kashyap replied: “Finally.. Thank you.. @narendramodi”.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.