Pahlaj Nihalani is an extremely naïve man, somebody who doesn’t have the right credentials to head the Central Board of Film Certification of India. The man who used to direct headache inducing massy potboilers in the name of cinema which more often than not were garnished with ludicrous double meaning songs like “Khada hai Khada hai Khada hai”, has become so sanskari and “intolerant” that its sickening. Is he doing that to gratify his political masters? BJP that is? If yes, then he is doing a appalling job at it. Because in last two days Pahlaj Nihalani has caused more damage to BJP than anyone ever could. And the role of BJP in the Udta Punjab controversy makes them look even more naïve, gullible and even foolhardy.
Now let us come to Udta Punjab. Udta Punjab (English: Inebriated Punjab) is an upcoming Bollywood film based on the drugs menace in Punjab.
It is written and directed by Abhishek Chaubey. It is produced by Shobha Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor under their banner Balaji Motion Pictures in association with Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films. Udta Punjab features Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and famous Punjabi actor-singer Diljit Dosanjh in the lead roles. The film is scheduled for release on 17 June 2016.
Drug addiction is a serious problem in the state of Punjab. It has reached epidemic proportions. According to a DNA India Report, Drug addiction has now become a key poll issue. Naturally the ruling party would want to disregard the issue as a poll-time gimmick and the opposition parties will latch on to the issue to get maximum out of it. Another report states that every four out of ten men in Punjab are addicted to some or other drug and that up to 50% of those are young farmers. While 15% of those are addicted to poppy husk (bhukki), 20% are addicted to synthetic drugs. So if the ruling BJP-SAD government think that they can ignore a problem as startling as the drug menace in Punjab, then they are gravely mistaken.
India is home to world’s largest movie-watching populace and movies invariably affect our psyche, our behavior and leaves a long lasting imprint on our subconscious. I was born and brought up in a family that placed Gandhi’s portraits in Pooja-Grih to be worshipped alongside gods but Ajay Devgn Starrer ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ compelled me to research about the murky side of Gandhi. And I could never be the same Gandhian anymore. Udta Punjab is bound to bring the dark story of drug menace in Punjab to the rest of India and it is going to unsettle the ruling BJP-SAD coalition. The spirited Aam Aadmi Party which is already touted to win Punjab stands resolutely behind the movie. It is a political outfit after all and who won’t pluck a fruit, so low hanging?
Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani has decreed to mute all references of Punjab in the Udta Punjab. In addition to that he imposed 89 cuts in the movie.
This is absolutely ridiculous. The ever-so-mercurial Anurag Kashyap, whom I rate as the best director in India and one of the finest contemporary filmmakers in the world, called Pahlaj Nihalani an oligarch, a dictator. Although he got his comparison horribly wrong when he equated India to North Korea, his dissent was mostly justified. To make the matter even more preposterous Nihalani alleged that Anurag Kashyap is working at the behest of Aam Aadmi Party and that he has gotten a big fat wad of money for the same. This is like jumping naked from a mountain cliff into a sea full of sharks. Aam Aadmi Party which has perfected the art of creating controversies from nothing, gets a full tray of ingredients which they can use to cook delectable political controversies which BJP-SAD will keep defending right till the poll day.
Although Bikram Singh Majithia, has strongly refuted all allegations saying that they are a ploy to malign his reputation, he is widely believed to be the kingpin of the drug Mafia in Punjab. Majithia is the younger brother of Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. Majithia faces allegations of having links with non-resident Indians accused of international money laundering related to the drugs racket. His name surfaced in 2014 when Jagdish Bhola, a man arrested last year for drugs trade, confessed that the drug empire was being run under the minister’s patronage and the full knowledge of the state police. Synthetic drugs scam case, key accused Jagjit Singh Chahal has also claimed to have given Rs. 35 lakh as election funds to Mr Majithia between 2007 and 2012. (Source)
BJP is playing Karna to Duryodhana. They fully know that Duryodhana is up to no good but it is ready to take an arrow in the name of friendship.
When Shiv Sena as an NDA ally can take pot-shots at the BJP, what’s stopping BJP from grilling the SAD over the drug menace in Punjab? And by placing a nincompoop Pahlaj Nihalani in the Censor Board, they have humiliated themselves even more.
BJP must understand that Udta Punjab controversy has enough merit in it to snowball into another “Intolerance” drama.
Leeches like Mahesh Bhatt, Anand Patwardhan and Imtiaz Ali are always on a lookout for some incident to nab the BJP. Few hours back, filmmakers did a press conference wherein they unequivocally criticized the censor board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani and others. Compering the event was Ashoke Pandit, a man known in film circles as the Bhakt Director. If he felt like siding with his fellow filmmakers on this issue and not his favourite party, we got to understand how the Udta Punjab controversy is phasing out.
Maybe Arvind Kejriwal is behind all this. Maybe Udta Punjab is politically motivated. Maybe Kashyap is on Kejriwal’s payrolls but denying audience of what seems like a good movie and a good yet untouched subject is grossly unfair. The first telltale will be the movie itself and skeletons can’t remain closeted forever. The Ministry of I&B must show some magnanimity, rein Pahlaj Nihalani a bit and give the filmmakers a chance to showcase their creative prowess. Punjab in my opinion is a lost cause for the BJP, a lost cause till they stand with Shiromani Akali Dal.