When Social Evils Inspired Art
The censor board may have been outraged at how Udta Punjab depicted the drug problem in Punjab, but this is not the first time that tinsel town has dealt with such controversial subjects.
Creative minds have studied the society over the years and have come up with masterpieces representing heavy topics, in celluloid. Udta Punjab is another such supposed piece of art dealing with a theme as psychedelic as drug abuse. But is it the first time that a film director attempted to unfurl the smokiness of dry addiction in Bollywood?
Dev Anand, with his film Hare Rama Hare Krishna in 1971 had the whole country synced to the tunes of ‘Dum Maro Dum’- the iconic song which presented to the audience, a bunch of hippies sunk in addiction. This film not only did great in the box-office but also charmed film critics with it’s meticulous plot management and unusual theme.
Dev D (2009), another strong attempt at portraying addiction, was a modern version of Sarat Chandra Chatyopadhyay’s ‘Devdas’. Anurag Kashyap’s directorial venture, which portrayed a society in northwestern India where the power of patriarchy overrules everything else, was well accepted by film buffs.
More recently in 2011, released Kalki Koechlin starrer Shaitan by Bejoy Nambiar which had addiction as the central theme. This film helmed a funkier version of ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ which still rocks some of the dance clubs. Luckily it did not face any challenge from the Censor Board and got embraced by film critics upon release.
Go Goa Gone had portrayed Goa as a state where people socialize in parties and indulge in taking banned drugs, yet there were not many questions raised regarding this film’s substance matter.
Even Maastizaada and Kya Kool Hai Hum which had certain amount of indecent and offensive contents were showcased publicly without much interference form the Censor Board. Some of the highly successful box-office hits like Rockstar and Fashion, also had portions dedicated to the causes and ill effects of drug addiction portrayed by Ranbir Kapoor and Kangana Ranaut.
Political parties and Censor Board of Film Certification(CBFC) have together become a weighty threat to Indian cinema, whenever one tries to explore touchy topics. In India, due to censorship issues, several experimental films have remained unappreciated by the indigenous audience.
Post the week-long drama with the CBFC, Bombay High Court, Anurag Kashyap and hot tweets from B’town celebs, it is to see what lies ahead for film-buffs this Friday, as one of the most talked about films, Udta Punjab releases.
Whether it deals with the seriousness of pan-Indian or Punjab based drug abuse or just takes a peep into the Pandora’s box to eventually come up with another not-so-well-researched failure, is to be witnessed and judged by film enthusiasts.