POSITIVES OF PAHLAJ NIHALANI’S NEGATIVES (AT LEAST IN UDTA PUNJAB CASE)

The film Udta Punjab is already a hit. Now we need to wait and see how massive its box office collections come out to be. Reportedly, already the music rights of the film have been sold for a record sum of 18 Crore. So, the claims of alleged financial losses by film producers are going to be nothing but mere speculations.

It has gained more than enough word of mouth and media publicity, plus an endorsement by none other than Syam Benegal, one of the most eminent filmmakers India would ever see, and the person whom the union government has entrusted with the task to revamp the Censor Board. After watching the film, Benegal said Udta Punjab was a ‘very well made film’. That is an indication that the film is going to release without much dilution.

It has saved (if producers intended for it) millions that otherwise would have gone into marketing the movie. Now even those who are casual film watchers and would have given the movie a natural ignore would think about giving movie a chance. These are the days when any publicity is good for a business that deals with masses and Udta Punjab, in this case, has got some solid good publicity due to Pahlaj Nihalani’s rubbish logics.

So, be sure, the film is going to do some brisk business. And if its quality is really sustainable to take it further from the momentum that it has gained from this controversy, it will be a blockbuster of over 100 crore.

The episode has once again highlighted the pathetic condition India’s Censor Board has been forced into. Changing ideologies in power corridors change people manning institutions in a democracy and there is nothing wrong in it. But one needs to see that the next person in-charge is intellectually capable enough to keep away from senseless controversies that India’s Censor Board has been mired into ever since Pahlaj Nihalani assumed its charge in January 2015.

Mr. Nihalani has done what was once considered almost impossible. He has brought together the film fraternity on a platform together. So it is not only those filmmakers who make socially relevant films who are outraged on this immoral and ridiculous censor act by Pahlaj Nihalani and are speaking out against him, but even those filmmakers like Karan Johar who exist in the comfortable domain of song and dance cinema, are also out there to raise strong voices against the dictatorial and unacceptable ways of India’s Censor Board.

And above all, the controversy has effectively put the ‘Punjab’s drug menace’ on people’s radar, out of Punjab, in the national consciousness. India has 29 states and Punjab is just a small one. Still, over 20% of narcotics seizures in India (including opioids like heroin) are reported from Punjab. Studies put adult drug users around 10 lakh in the state. But there is an increasing chunk of minors that these studies haven’t counted yet. And we can safely assume that the real count would be much higher because no study can effectively map a state of 2.77 crore people to gauge a social malaise like drug abuse that people are hesitant to report. Also, alcohol is another addiction that may compound Punjab’s drugs issue. Last year, some 33 crore liquor bottles were sold in Punjab, more than ten times of its population of 2.77 crore.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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