T. P. Aggarwal
Publisher/MANAGING Editor
 The week that passed witnessed high drama and action, when the makers of Udta Punjab had to face newer challenges, despite their film being cleared by the High Court, with more petitions being filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Supreme Court. However the most unexpected challenge for them was when a purported censor copy of the film was leaked online and started making the rounds all over. While it is still not clear how the leak happened, it is shocking and absolutely disgusting. Just how did this film surface online and who are the culprits? It is also a matter of great concern for producers that a censor copy of their film is leaked online two days before the film’s release just when they are about to hit the theatres. We have all protested against piracy of films in the past and how it cuts into the box-office business of films but this is something that is totally uncalled for.

This is not the first time a censor copy of a film has been leaked online. Prior to this there have been several films in the recent past, that have been leaked online, with the watermark clearly indicating that it was the censor copy. However the Udta Punjab case has raised several doubts and question marks about the security of films in the process of censorship. I am sure this episode will give sleepless nights to all those producers whose films go for censorship, not only because they are likely to get stuck up in the CBFC but about the likelihood of them surfacing online days before their release. I am glad that the whole industry has taken note of this and condemned this incident but we need to think beyond that and look for a possible solution to this problem. It is a sorry state of affairs. Besides how many battles can a producer fight to see his film through and what if all his labour of love is lost, when the audiences simply refuse to patronise the film? Without going into the merits of Udta Punjab, I sincerely hope that the viewers who have downloaded the online versions, still go to the theatres to catch a glimpse of the film. It is any day a better bet to watch a film in a theatre than watching it online.

That also reminds me about the fate of all the smaller films like Dhanak, Love U Alia and Bhouri and the two Marathi films that were scheduled for release this week against Udta Punjab.
I am told that the makers of these films had to go through equally trying times about the number of shows they would get in multiplexes, thanks to the uncertainty surrounding the release of Udta Punjab. From what I know, a majority of exhibitors had their own reservations whether Udta Punjab would be indeed able make it on 17th June in view of the last minute court cases. An exhibitor revealed that he had the smaller films ready in the event of the former being postponed but had kept the shows open for both. I wouldn’t know whether the other films which were released on the same day got their due. While a small filmmaker invests everything that he has in a film, his real concern is whether it confirms to the final test of the audiences, which is possible only if he gets the right chain of theatres. For every filmmaker, releasing his film is like a dream come true but the big question is does he actually realise his dream or does he only end up creating liabilities for himself?


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