The past few days of the nation have seen ‘Udta Punjab’ to be the biggest center of commotion and brouhaha among every circle of discourse.
The left-liberal-secular brigade is at its best to demean the current regime, accusing it of curbing the ‘Freedom of Expression’ by getting Pahlaj Nihalani, the CBFC chief, asking for 89 cuts to be made to the film in order for it to receive an ‘A’ certificate. At the same time, the Right Wingers’ army is lashing out at the liberal jamaat of filmmakers with Anurag Kashyap as its fanboy, of making film after film that not only selectively hurt the sentiments of Indians, but as in this case, also have a very clear connotation of getting the state of Punjab a bad name.
While we won’t discuss the political implications of this issue right now, one thing that can’t be ignored is the fact that just 10-12 days back, the industry buzz about ‘Udta Punjab’ was terribly weak. Its music couldn’t manage to strike a chord with the audience, and being an extremely dark film it carried a very high frequency of expletives and negative emotions right inside its official trailer, which somehow wasn’t able to evoke the mass interest in the film. It was only after the CBFC issue a list of 89 cuts to be made to the film after holding a screening the film as per the procedure, that Anurag and his team created the huge ruckus through every possible media and social media platform – almost in an orchestrated and very well planned manner.Also, a number of cuts suggested – such as removal of all the politics-centric words including ‘election’, ‘MLA’, ‘MLC’, etc. and all the references to the places in Punjab including the names of Tarantaran, Amritsar, Bathinda etc. were way too ridiculous for anybody to give a thought to – which gave a suggestion that these cuts were ‘deliberately’ suggested so as to provide the filmmakers a chance to create an issue out of it.
There was something about this entire episode that was giving an indication there was much more to it than met the eye, and finally the mystery was unearthed a few days back. It happened when some media reports began emerging almost simultaneously through various sources, giving an impression that the entire ‘Udta Punjab’ issue was creating rifts inside Pahalaj Nihalani’s own family. And when the details were given, it was not difficult to assume these reports too were a part of the ‘big game’ that was being perfectly played in the partnership of Pahalaj Nihalani and Anurag Kashyap to take the Right-Wingers’ crowd for a royal ride this time.
According to the details which were found to be accurate when we investigated, Chirag Nihalani, the son of Pahalaj Nihalani works as a Creative Producer at the production house Balaji Motion Pictures, the co-producer of ‘Udta Punjab’ along with Anurag’s ‘Phantom Films’. At the same time, Radhika Nihalani, the wife of Chirag Nihalani is officially a part of the marketing team of this film right now. As a matter of fact, Chirag was praised in these media reports, suggesting he was able to use his ‘domestic connections’ to get the trailer of the film passed without any cut a few months back. This time though, the reports were designed to suggest, Pahalaj went adamant and deliberately wanted to delay the film so as to cause losses to the producers.
So while this all drama clearly seems to have been very beautifully written and executed by the Anurag and Pahalaj duo, the Right Wing cheerleaders, in their peculiar manner, are busy yelling out blindly in favor of Pahalaj – only because he is a self-proclaimed ‘Chamcha’ of Modi – and giving the film an undue advantage that it could never earn in the first place.
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