Lets Bid Our Farewell To The ‘Udta’ Realism In Our Bollywood

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udta-punjabThere is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion that consumes most of us- Bollywood and of course, cricket. We all love Bollywood, some might scrutinize the movies but still relish it. As of now, we have movies being helmed that cater to every aspect of our society. From art films to masala films, from crying-my-eyes-out romantic movies to a heart-thumping thriller, everything gets covered under the massive umbrella of what we call Bollywood.

Subtly using the power of cinema, new age directors are trying to alter the societal stereotypes by breaking them and also are creating awareness among the common mass. Movies like ‘Waiting’, ‘Wake Up Sid’, ‘Margarita with a Straw’, and many more, all aim to educate the masses and make them understand the complexities of life and how to face them. However, what happens when a reality based movie is being shunned under the pretext of being too honest?

I am genuinely disturbed at the new low our esteemed Censor Board has attained. They have been known to scissor out the content to make the movies much more ‘approachable’ than it initially was for a long time. The latest victim to bear the burnt of the ideals and principles that our CBFC follows – Udta Punjab. Abhishek Chaubey’s upcoming movie explores drug use in the state through a cross-section of characters, and it is not merely a work of fiction. The movie had been asked to go through 89 cuts and to drop any references to the state, its towns & cities and elections.

We all are wrong to assume that Punjab has a drug problem. Punjab does not have a drug problem, and there are no officials further aggravating the crisis. The existence of de-addiction centres are as delusional as studies indicating high usage of drugs and alcohol, especially by young people. All is a myth and we all know nothing, nothing at all.

They compromise with the essence that goes into the making of a movie, and is as easily refuted as we may refute a fly in our surroundings. There is, obviously, no appreciation of art. But if one cannot respect, there shouldn’t be any demeaning of it. One cannot hope to alter the background for the famous art piece ‘ The Last Supper’ without diminishing or, worse, questioning the originality.

The idea that censorship is politically influenced has shattered the idea of freedom in my mind. Is there no activity that cannot be politicized? Did we choose leaders who could lead us to progression or who could rule us into regression?

Only political pressure from the Centre can explain the skittishness with which the CBFC has treated Udta Punjab, which is set in the state led (or rather, ruled) by the Shiromani Akali Dal party led by the Badal clan in a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The alliance will face a crucial Assembly election in 2017, and it appears that Udta Punjab is exposing an open secret that everyone knows but no one wants it to be talked about.

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The movie has been refuted by Akali Dal as it apparently ‘defames’ the state and shows the leaders in a very bad, yet exposing light. There is nothing more to Punjab than ‘aloo ke paranthe’ and the occasional ‘patiala peg’. Since we are refuting reality, we might as well refute the study by AIIMS that concludes that  Punjabis spend Rs 7,500 crore annually on drugs and 1 in every 3 college students are addicts.

While the Chairman, Pahlaj Nihalani, is busy working as per the whims of the political parties, the entire team of Udta Punjab is dangling by a thread that reeks of intolerance and denial and that blocks creative expression. After all, who wants to know of the real world while we are busy battling our very own private lives?

We might as well start relishing the movies such as Housefull 3, Wanted, Rowdy Rathore, R..Rajkumar that celebrates slapstick comedy and regressive attitude, because whatever may happen, they will never be scraped off. There is hope for cinema that is regressive, because that’s what our society and the people in it thrive by.

Yugansha Malhotra

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