‘Udta Punjab’ leak: I&B Ministry sends team to CBFC office to probe

In the wake of allegations that censor copy of ‘Udta Punjab’ was leaked two days ahead of its release, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has rushed a team of officials to the CBFC office in Mumbai for inquiry.

The I&B Ministry team, headed by Joint Secretary (films) Sanjay Murthy, reached the Mumbai office of the Central Board of Film Certification on Friday.

A leading daily citing its source stated that Murthy and senior CBFC officials were holed up at the CBFC headquarters in Mumbai for a long time. “Joint secretary Murthy and his team arrived at the CBFC office on Friday afternoon. They left only around 7 pm. During their visit they questioned everyone in the office including the clerks," the report quoted a source.

However, the Ministry in Delhi maintained that no formal probe has been initiated and the visit was to assess facts. "We have not instituted any formal enquiry," a senior official from the Ministry told the tabloid on condition of anonymity.

Shahid Kapoor starrer ‘Udta Punjab’ was leaked on Wednesday and the leaked print carried a watermark 'For Censor’ on the top left corner, which raised the suspicion that the board was behind the leak. Producers Anurag Kashyap and Ekta Kapoor lodged a complaint with the cyber police and the illegal download links were immediately removed. The Mumbai Police is investigating the case registered under the Copyright and Information Technology Act.

Meanwhile, CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani has dismissed the allegations that a member of the board is behind the leak. "The leaked copy is not the one submitted to the censor board for examination. We will cooperate with the investigation," he asserted. But Nihalni's bete noire within the board, Ashoke Pandit, had told reporters that he is sure the film was leaked by someone within the Board. He also alleged that the timing of the leak is one of the biggest clues.

"Had the High Court judgement been in favour of the board's cuts, I am sure this leak would not have happened. When a producer hands over the censor copy it becomes the responsibility of the CBFC to ensure that it doesn't go anywhere," he said, adding that as head of the Board Nihalani should be held responsible for the leak.

‘Udta Punjab’ was locked in a bitter battle against the censor board and its revising committee which suggested 13 cuts. The matter went to the Bombay High Court which allowed the film to release with only one cut and modifications in disclaimer.