Anurag Kashyap on 'Udta Punjab' row: Real issue lost in political blame game

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who is embroiled in a tussle with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) over the "Udta Punjab" controversy, says accusing him of taking money from AAP is not just a lie by Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani but also a diversion from the real issue and turning it into a political battle.

Anurag Kashyap. Pic/AFP
Anurag Kashyap. Pic/AFP

"Udta Punjab" has reportedly been suggested 89 cuts by the censor board, headed by Nihalani. The censor board chief had suggested that Kashyap, who has co-produced the film, may have made the movie after taking money from the AAP (Aam Aadmi Party), sparking a stinging reaction from Bollywood and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal.

Kashyap, who has made movies like "Black Friday", "Paanch" and "Gulaal" in the past, expressed his views via a Facebook post.

The post read: "So after taking a hard stand with censorship the trolls are out there creating diversion from the issue with blatant lies and accusations... I have had run ins with censor many times. First was 'Paanch' which everyone still believes was banned by censors. The truth is the film was cleared by revising committee after a few cuts and two disclaimers, and the same version , the cleared one is available on the net.

"'Black Friday' was cleared uncut by censors but were blocked by the court as the case was under trial. Finally Justice Sabharwal cleared the film for exhibition in two years from when it was blocked even before the verdict was out. A lot of film stayed intact except some references to Shiv Sena that were cut out under pressure.

He went to mention that "Gulaal" was never caught up in any censor issue. Kashyap shared: "The film had few references muted in one dialogue. It was stuck in production. Most of the lists the trolls are floating on the net of a million cuts on every film are lists of cuts made for TV of the adult films.

"'Ugly' was never stuck with censor board, it was cleared. We decided to push the film to fight the health ministry on anti-smoking logo. It was our decision to fight the then government and we lost the case, in Court. Film came out intact. 'Water' was not allowed to shoot at all and that was not during the UPA government and that's when first time I met Mr. Jaitley and was an admirer of his since.

"But in all the battles, I never felt that I was being silenced or blackmailed into doing something against my will."

Kahsyap says that "all those battles were a fair fight of belief systems, all those fights were not being lost, not knowing what's going on."

"All those battles we knew who and what the enemy was, be it a person, a thought or just the understanding of the board. This one is different. This was blackmail, this has been a wall of lies," he said, adding that Nihalani has lied on "Udta Punjab" controversy.

"We got the official letter in a day after going to press and immediately after the first hearing of the court. We have a signed acknowledgment from Mr. Nihalani's office dated yesterday 7th June , which requests him to give us the official copy. So him saying he gave the letter on Monday is a lie and proof of all his lies," he said.

Kashyap went on to say that "him pressurising us to delay release, and accepting cuts is and was a thought through strategy. His accusing me of taking money from AAP is not just a lie, is a diversion from the real issue to make the fight for a filmmaker's right into a political battle.

"And in this he is being helped by all the trolls to make sure that the real issue somewhere is lost in the political blame game.," he added.

"Udta Punjab" is co-produced by Kashyap's Phantom Films with Balaji Motion Pictures. It stars Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Diljit Dosanjh.

The filmmaker also requested people to stick to the topic and promote freedom of expression.

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