'Udta Punjab' finally flying high
By Arunesh Bhardwaj July 29, 2016
By way of a movie, a film-maker expresses the ideas in a creative way and the right to do so has been vested in every citizen by Article 19 of the Constitution of India and its public exhibition is regulated by Central Board of Film Certification (herein after referred as CBFC) that is established under The Cinematograph Act, 1952, The rules prescribed for it are Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 and the guidelines issued by the Central Government. ‘Udta Punjab’ is the latest movie that came under the scissors of Central Board for Film Certification.
CBFC: Objectives & Functioning
CBFC aims to ensure that
- The film remains responsible and sensitive to the values and standards of the society without curbing the artistic expression and creative freedom.
- The human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity and depravity.
- Any anti-social activity is not glorified or justified.[i]
But the Board has been constantly alleged by various film-makersthat the Board is curbing down the creative freedom of an artist and is not realising that the spectrum of human sensibility is wide enough to understand mature context[ii]. The High Court in the recent case told the Board that the youth of this country is ready to handle something mature.[iii]
To fulfil the objective of CBFC, a system of certifying the films is there under the Act by way of which the audience will get to know that to whom this idea is been catered to.For certificate, the producer of the film applies to the regional office[iv] after which an examining committee is formed which after examining the film issues one of the four certificates that it can issue[v]. Apart from giving the certificate, the examining committee also have option either to direct the applicant to make changes as the committee thinks fits or it can deny the issuance of the certificate.[vi]
- A film gets ‘U’ certificate if the film is suitable for unrestricted public exhibition.
- A film gets ‘UA’ certificate if it is suitable for unrestricted public exhibition with parental discretion for a child below the age of twelve years.
- A film gets ‘A’ certificate if the content of the film is suitable only for adults.
- A film gets ‘S’ certificate if it is suitable for a certain class of profession or class of person.[vii]
Once the film is screened the Regional Officer will have to communicate the Certificate given to the applicant’s film along with the objections, if any and then the filmmaker can go to the Tribunal in an appeal.
Udta Punjab & CBFC
In the case of Udta Punjab, as per Mr. Mukesh Bhatt, who is the president of The Film & Television Producers Guild of India Ltd., the producers of the film applied for certificate on May 10, 2016 which was then examined by the committee on May 18, 2016 but the CBFC were not giving any certificate saying that the members of the examining committee has not yet reached on a final decision. It was further said by him that the letter related to the cuts in the film was received on June 08, 2016. This delay compels the producer to accept the cuts suggested as the copy of the film for the overseas screens need to be delivered before a week of film’s release, which in this case is June 17, 2016.[viii]It has been alleged by Mr. Anurag Kashyap that the CBFC didn’t send them the letter regarding the Certificate issued to them and for that they send a legal notice to the CBFC on June 06, 2016 which was duly acknowledged by the Board.[ix]Mr. Kashyap also stated that even after the acknowledgment, the letter about the cuts was not issued and then on June 08, 2016, the producers of the film filed a petition in the Bombay High Court and after the first hearing of the case, CBFC issued the letter. Further, he also said that once they got the letter from the CBFC, they filed their appeal in the Tribunal but the judge of the Tribunal will not be available till June 16, 2016.[x]Now,as per the letter issued by the CBFC, the total number of cuts was 94 which were stated in 13 points.[xi]
Article 19 of Indian Constitution guarantees its citizen the right to freedom of speech and expression but also construes some limitations on that freedom. As per Article 19(2), restrictions can be imposed on the exercise of this right keeping sovereignty and integrity, security of the State, as well as public order, decency or morality in mind. With respect to movies, it is the duty of the CBFC to ensure that Right under 19(1) (a) is not being abused.
The movie ‘Udta Punjab’ shows the reality and reflects the situation of people of Punjab by telling a fictional story. It was held in the case of Mahesh Bhatt v Union of Indiathat,Cinema must reflect good and bad aspect of life. The Court further said that even in the epics, be it Mahabharata or Ramayana, there is gambling, kidnapping and deceit and depicting them can’t be legitimately prohibited. Court further stated that if a scene in a movie is portraying a youthful gathering in a college or in a club, the use of incidental smoking will be the part of the script as this is the reality which the movie is reflecting and the Right must be safeguarded.
The petition by the producers of the film was filed in the Bombay High Court on June 08, 2016 asking for the issuance of certificate. The operative order for the same was given by the Court on June 13, 2016 wherein the Court gave 48 hours to CBFC to issue ‘A’ certificate with only one cut.[xii]
A film maker by way of film tries to express and reflect the condition of the society. In the present situation, the movie is trying to make the audience aware of a problem that is gripping Punjab’s youth. The movie is not trying to glorify the use of drugs but it is showing its impact. It is to show that if you use drugs, what the after effect can be. This movie will address this problem of Punjab and will make people aware of the situation. As the court stated in the case of Mukesh Bhatt v Union of India, the movie needs to reflect both good and bad. It should not just reflect the good things of the society but it needs to reflect the good, the bad as well as the ugly elements of our society and banning a movie which is trying to do so, will ensure that the audience don’t get aware of the bad and the ugly of our society.
[i]http://cbfcindia.gov.in/html/uniquepage.aspx?unique_page_id=1 last visited on June 14, 2016
[iii]http://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/06/09/bombay-hc_0_n_10378722.html last visited on June 14, 2016
[iv]Rule 21 of Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983
[v]Rule 22 of Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983
[vi]Section 4 (1) (iii) and (iv) of The Cinematograph Act, 1952
[vii]Rule 22 (9) of Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983