Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has reminded Pahlaj Nihalani, chief of the Central Board of Film Certification, that his job is to certify films not censor them.
Mr Nihalani in the eye of the storm for the 89 cuts he has inflicted on Bollywood film “Udta Punjab”, whose producer Anurag Kashyap and his Phantom Films have taken the board to court over it.
“The word censor is not anywhere in the act. Your power is to certify films for public exhibition,” the court observed today.
It had yesterday asked why such a “hue and cry” had been made over the movie by the board. “It is obnoxious. We should avoid this as responsible people. The present generation wants something more mature. But you say ‘no'”, the court had observed.
Mr Nihalani has ordered the deletion of “Punjab” and the names of other places in the state and also of words like election, MLA and Parliament from the film, which deals with drug abuse in Punjab, where elections will be held early next year.
Mr Nihalani, a film producer, has been severely criticised by the film fraternity and has been accused by political parties like the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party of attempting to stall the film at the behest of the BJP, an ally of the ruling Akali Dal in Punjab.
Both opposition parties have built their election campaigns against the Akali Dal-BJP alliance around the drug menace in the state.
Arguing their case before the Bombay High Court, the Central Board of Film Certification or CBFC has defended its cuts, insisting they are justified and legal. So far the court has seemed unimpressed with its arguments.
“Film’s title has that state’s name. The story is in that state and it depicts the people from that state,” the court said yesterday about the use of “Punjab” in the film.
The CBFC has argued that the state should be projected correctly.
“Udta Punjab” is slated for release on June 17.