Over the last fortnight, anxiety was writ large on their faces. Yesterday, they couldn't stop smiling. The shadow of uncertainty has finally been lifted and the team of 'Udta Punjab' couldn't be happier. The makers and the star cast came together to address the media at a Juhu five-star last afternoon where they expressed relief as well as contentment over the Bombay High Court's judgment to certify the film with just one cut and a revised disclaimer.
Anurag Kashyap with Aman Gill and Madhu Mantena at the press meet. Pics/Satej Shinde
"Happiness comes devoid of a conflict, but we are feeling a sense of relief," said Shahid Kapoor, who essays the role of a rockstar addicted to drugs in the film that revolves around rampant substance abuse among youths in Punjab. He said the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) should be referred to as a certification board and not Censor Board.
"People who did not want the film to release, eventually made it (the controversy) bigger than it was. We are representing freedom of expression. We are proud and happy with what happened at the court. I appreciate the cut (a scene in which his character is shown urinating in front of a crowd), but I wanted the film to be passed without any cut. I thank Anurag (Kashyap, co-producer) for taking up the matter. He has another release shortly, but he was selfless while taking up the issue. He took it on himself," the actor waxed eloquent.
Vikas Bahl, Ekta Kapoor, Abhishek Chaubey, Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor
The entire team seemed joyous and most of all, at ease. "This is not how we were feeling 10 days ago," said a relieved Kashyap, who arrived later than the others, and added, "We are here after completing all our work, and there is still more work. Initially, people called it (face-off with CBFC) a publicity stunt. Then there were rumours about us having political affiliations. But, eventually, everyone supported us in our fight and here we are."
Asked if he supports the call for sacking CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani, Kashyap said, "Who will give the guarantee that the new person will not interpret things in his own way? I think each one of us needs to come out of our comfort zone."
A still from 'Udta Punjab'
While all the main leads, including Shahid, Alia Bhatt and Diljit Dosanjh, were at the press meet, Kareena Kapoor Khan was missing. Kashyap did not have an answer for her absence while Ekta simply said, "We don't have to discuss it here." Instead, she spoke about how the film fraternity and distributors threw their weight behind them during the turmoil.
Co-producer Madhu Mantena's (of Kashyap-led Phantom Films) phone kept ringing throughout the media interaction, but he didn't miss any calls. He climbed down the dais every time he had to answer a call. His production partner and fellow filmmaker Vikas Bahl said, "We were nervous, we were scared, we were not feeling like this (happy) 10 days ago. Abhishek (Chaubey, director) has spent sleepless nights and will have a few more sleepless nights till the film releases. Udta Punjab is coming on June 17."
Talking about the battle against censorship, Alia mentioned how her father, filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt has been fighting for artistic freedom all these years. The actress also expressed her gratitude to Shahid for recommending her for the project. "It is one of the most difficult and real characters that I am playing and I am happy Shahid gave me the opportunity," she said.