Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan on Wednesday came out in support of "Udta Punjab", which is embroiled in a major controversy over censorship, saying the voice of a filmmaker should not be throttled.
Aamir is the latest celebrity to join the list of growing voices from the film industry, who have protested against the censor board's demands to remove the word 'Punjab' from the title and the story and make 89 cuts.
"It's very unfortunate. I'm pained that the film is going through this. As per my knowledge, it is based on drug addiction and delivers a social message. I don't think there is anything that should be cut or audience should be kept away...
"It reflects badly on CBFC. I hope the film gets justice at the Tribunal. The voice of the filmmaker shouldn't be throttled... There should be freedom of speech. Every Indian should have this right," Aamir said on the sidelines of an event in Mumbai.
Amid the censorship row surrounding "Udta Punjab", megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Wednesday said that there should be a system that "certifies" a film than cuts its content.
The 73-year-old National Award-winner is the latest celebrity to join the debate over the issue of censorship concerning Anurag Kashyap-produced "Udta Punjab", which was raised after the censor board allegedly demanded 89 cuts in the film.
"I hope we can device a system where there is certification rather than censor. Don't try and kill creativity. We all must have the freedom to create because we are in this field and all we have is our soul to create," Bachchan told a TV news channel.
He said it is unfortunate that the makers had to move court, which might result in the film's delay.
"When you kill our creativity, you kill our soul. That would be detrimental to progress per say. I am not aware of 'Udta Punjab' issue. But it is unfortunate that there is going to be a delay that they have to fight their way to the high court," he said.
"But that there have been instances with me in the past as well where films were denied release and we had to go to higher authorities. Eventually, creativity won. But yes delay was something that one had to cope with," Bachchan added.
The actor feels a censor problem at the time of a film's release acts as a "setback" for the maker as all the aspects from distribution to marketing are ready by then.
"If you are dissatisfied with something, there is a tribunal, there are courts and there have been cases where eventually the maker has gone to court and come out with the decision that is pro him.
"The only problem comes when the censor problem of a problem comes at the time of release and everything is set up-- distribution, set up, publicity, theatres, publicity, marketing. At this point, if there is an obstacle to get certification then it sets you back. That is really bothersome."
Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, who is a member of the government-appointed censor board revamp committee, on Wednesday said that censorship in India needed reforms and cuts in movies should be abolished.
When asked about the controversy over "Udta Punjab", Mehra said that censor board should only certify films according to age brackets, rather than running scissors, reiterating what Amitabh had said.
"The idea of censoring in the country needs reforms.
According to me, there should be no scissors. We have been working on it from past five months. Just last week, we completed and submitted the report to the I&B ministry.
Obviously, we need to abolish the scissors," Mehra told PTI.
When asked about the criticism against censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani, the "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" director said individuals cannot be a problem.
"I don't know how individuals can be a problem? Censor board has many individuals but human judgment should not be there because every person has his or her opinion. So, we should not be allowed to judge, we should give a film a certificate."
Mehra said that the certification was needed to safeguard children from sex, violence and drug abuse but feels it is not right to censor anything.
"We have to safeguard our children from sex, drug abuse and violence, but we cannot censor anything. We cannot tell a filmmaker, 'Make five cuts and come back'. Who are you to say that?" the director said.
The committee, headed by Shyam Benegal, also includes Tamil superstar Kamal Haasan, Goutam Ghosh and ad guru Piyush Pandey.
Mehra said none of the members were 'yes men' and that's why they were chosen for suggesting "holistic" reforms for the controversy-laden censor board.