Close to 70 years ago during the struggle for Freedom, our brave freedom fighters left no stone unturned to ensure that their future generations (read: we) would be free to live their lives like they wanted to. We’ve been lucky to have ‘inherited‘ the railways, postal and the judicial system to name a few from the British. The drafting committee did do their bit to ensure we have the various policies and law in place. One of the most important part of this are the Fundamental Rights. BTW a quick question, how many Fundamental Rights does out Constitution define ? Not many can answer, but we have 9 fundamental rights. Moving on, one of those Fundamental Rights is the Right to Freedom.
Right to Freedom includes Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom to practice any profession, Freedom of residence to name a few. If you haven’t been staying under a rock, you might be aware of the recent situation related to the film Udta Punjab. The CBFC – Central Board of Film Certification – is a body with officials appointed by the Central Government that is responsible for certifying films before it is released to the masses. Udta Punjab is a movie that showcases the widespread drug abuse in the state of Punjab. The board has asked the producer to make several cuts (89 as per news reports) and remove swear words and anything and everything that hurts the sentiments of any group. On the other hand the Punjab Government too is not happy with the film as it shows the state in bad light. So marred with all these controversies, I doubt that the board and other groups would allow the film to release. (Came across a lot of trolls asking Anurag Kashyap to release the movie on Snapchat and YouTube :P) So in short, we do have the Right to Freedom of Speech but just like our broadband plan, it has a “Fair Usage Policy” attached to it.
I do agree that we need to exercise our Rights such that nobody’s sentiments are hurt. But in the case of Udta Punjab, they are just trying to throw light on the ground reality, which I feel is perfectly alright. If movies like these are bearing the brunt of the board and the people, then probably they should certify the script even before the movie is made ! So it should be Central Board of Script Certification instead, because making a film isn’t a cheap shot and there’s a lot of efforts and money that is put into it. By putting a Fair Usage Policy on the Right to Freedom of Speech, they are definitely killing the creativity in a way. Further some groups have even asked to remove the name Punjab from the movie, I mean what effect it would have ? I always wonder, why are people more worried about the name ? After all what’s in the name !
Not only the Bollywood fraternity but even personalities like Harbhajan Singh, Rahul Gandhi have come out in support of the movie saying that there is nothing wrong in the movie and that the people and the officials must be aware of the current situation in the state. Because in the end it will benefit the society in a way that the officials would work towards plugging the loopholes and curbing this menace. Meanwhile Anurag Kashyap has been seen locking horns with the Board and asking the political parties to stay away from the fiasco.
One side we have our Prime Minister talking about the Freedom of Speech and Religion enshrined in our constitution in the US as we see contrasting pictures at home. Well all I can say is, even after so many years of Independence, we talk issues like Freedom of Speech, Intolerance which is shameful. We are a nation known for the diversity and the unity we have, and wasting time on such issues won’t take us anywhere. Movies can come and go, Politicians will come and go but the values that we are known for should not fade away with time…
So what do you think about the Udta Punjab fiasco ? Should the makers of the movie bow to the demands of the board / religious groups ? Or should the board / groups allow the movie to be released as it is ? Would love see how you look at things.