Indian court frees Bollywood drug thriller from censor's clutches

Mon Jun 13, 2016 7:57am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - An Indian court has cleared the way for a Bollywood thriller about drug trafficking to open in cinemas this week after government censors attempted to thwart the movie's release ahead of elections in a northern state where the film is set.

Monday's judgment by the Bombay High Court brings the curtain down on a week of bickering between the film's producers and the head of India's censor panel over suggested cuts to "Udta Punjab", which the film's makers said removed its essence.

"I can only hope that films are viewed in context in the future," the film's director, Abhishek Chaubey, told reporters outside the court, saying he was "terribly pleased and relieved".

Striking down all but one of the 13 cuts suggested by the censor board, the court ordered that "Udta Punjab" be issued an A - or adult - certificate for screening immediately. The film is scheduled to be released in cinemas on Friday.

A lawyer for the producers said they would voluntarily remove a shot of the film's protagonist, a rock star, urinating into the crowd at a concert.

In a rare display of unity, Bollywood had rallied behind "Udta Punjab" co-producer Anurag Kashyap and the film's cast to protest attempts by censor chief Pahlaj Nihalani to sanitize art and popular culture.

"I'm deeply stressed as a filmmaker, and I know I'm not alone. The censorship crisis, the moral policing, the politics of it has most of us on edge," producer Karan Johar wrote in a column for news channel NDTV's web site before the court's ruling.

India has a history of censoring sexually explicit and politically sensitive content, and Bollywood is increasingly finding itself under scrutiny.   Continued...

A man rides his bicycle past a poster of the movie "Udta Punjab" in Mumbai, India, June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade