So, I've been made the new head of CBFC — the Central Board of Film Certification. No, no I'm not taking Pahlaj Nihalani's place. Mine is a new division that addresses issues relating to titles of movies with the name of an Indian state or Union Territory in them.
The Akali Government is going ballistic because they feel that Udta Punjab gives the state a bad name. No one takes drugs in our state, they say, we have a 'kee pharak penda' attitude and dance the Bhangra like there is no tomorrow, so people think we are druggies. I asked an Akali spokeperson, "If you remove 'Punjab' from the film, what do you expect the title to be? Just 'Udta'?"
"Actually the title of this film should be Udta Goa. That's where the druggies are," he replied. "But the film is set in Punjab, so how can we call it Udta Goa?" I argued. "Arre, what are you saying? The film was shot in Film City, Goregaon, so what difference does it make? Ek do beach ka shot, ek do Russian hippie daal do, and Udta Goa will be ok."
When I suggested this to the Goa Chief Minister, thinking he may be overjoyed to improve tourism into Dabolim airport, he was aghast. "You mean to say that there is a drug problem only in Goa? That's such a cliché. There's a mounting heroin addiction problem in Maharashtra, also, men." I then approached, the various local political parties in Mantralaya — they were all unanimous in their approval.
"Chala, no problem, with elections around the corner, if there is a film on our state, it will be good. Please shoot some extra footage with us building bridges and repairing roads. Only one thing — Udta is a Hindi word — we need a Marathi shabdh for flying — make it, Udnara Maharashtra."
This was not getting me anywhere. Then, suddenly, a delegation from the Samajawadi Party showed up at my doorstep. "Namaste… we are happy to undertake this fillum. But you must show the Yadav family in good light. Title honi chahiye, Up U.P. Samjhe na? Up means oopar and U.P. is Uttar Pradesh."
Every state had its demands and I was fast tiring. Finally, I went Southwards. To meet Jayalalithaa. I felt she would help me. I prostrated on the floor before her and asked… "Madam, may I have the film released in your sunny state, with the title, Parrindh Pogadhe Tamil Nadu? We can show footage of you helping flood relief victims, distributing food, etc."
Amma looked at me, mild amusement on her face. "Rahula," she started, "I was an actress once. I know how much a title means to the profitability of a movie. Who will come to see a movie called, Parrindh Pogadhe Tamil Nadu? No chance!"
"Okay madam, what would you recommend? Just give the film a title and it is yours." "Chennai Express 2," she said. "With Shahid Kapoor in a lungi."
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org