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An Open Letter..

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Open Letter to Mr Narendra Modi

A Bollywood film called ‘Udta Punjab’ is to be released on 17th June, this year. A film I, and many others across India and the rest of the world, have been eagerly waiting for. Unfortunately, I have recently learnt that the Central Board of Film Certification (Censor Board) are censoring the film because of its subject matter; drugs.

I do not live in India, I live in the U.K. but that does not mean I am happy with this new controversial development surrounding the fate of this movie. Frankly, I am appalled with this decision to cut over 80 scenes from the movie as well removing the very essence of the plot; the state of Punjab.

My parents were born and bred in Punjab, my grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. My life is enriched with the culture and traditions of Punjab. I may very well be British but my heritage originates from Punjab. I, like many other Indian citizens, am concerned about this decision made by the censor board, for a variety of reasons.

Removing Punjab from ‘Udta Punjab’ defies the whole point of the film. ‘Udta Punjab’ will depict the horrifyingly high usage of drugs in Punjab, where over 70% of the youth are drug addicts. By taking Punjab out of the equation you are allowing the state to get away with issues that should be dealt with head on. Do you honestly believe people aren’t aware? I have visited Punjab many times and I have witnessed first hand the complications that arise from drugs and how the government of Punjab and India are idly sitting on their hands whilst a state tumbles head first towards its death.

For the first time, ever, someone has decided to finally speak about the issue of drugs and now you are doing everything in your power to stop them from highlighting a message that affects the future of your country? Not once has anything been done to try and reduce the use of drugs in Punjab. The government is fine with the state getting destroyed by drugs misuse but what irritates them is when someone brave enough comes along and makes a film on it. The hypocrisy of the Indian government baffles me.

The Punjabi government is known for banning films that portray the reality of their misdeeds and to some extent, if I put myself in their shoes for a minute, I can understand their (deluded) need to hide their mistakes. In the past, a couple of Punjabi movies have been banned in Punjab because of their subject matter. However this did not stop the outcry and outrage of the thousands of Punjabis around the world. The movies were shared on social media and were tremendously successful abroad, I should know, I watched them too.  But enough is enough.

Anurag Kashyap (a film director and producer) recently tweeted this:

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I wholeheartedly agree with his statement. I find it encouraging to see well known and critically acclaimed Bollywood directors putting their foot down and protesting against the censor board.

A lot of Bollywood movies have ‘item numbers’; songs that show female actors dancing and singing in a sexualised manner. I have always felt uncomfortable with the idea of item numbers purely because of the degrading manner in which female actors are portrayed. I have the uttermost respect for Bollywood actors and actresses that branch away from such sexism and provide entertainment through films that actually have a moral and ethical tie to them. ‘Udta Punjab’ is one of those films and it sickens me that the movie is being cut so those who place themselves on a pedestal can continue to live their privileged lives without any obstructions.

Drugs, rape, sexism, dowry, discrimination, homophobia are subjects that deserve to be spoken about. The youth of India deserves to be shown the truth about its country. The highest platform to get that point across is the Bollywood movie industry. With the exception of cricket, the Bollywood movie industry has the biggest impact on Indian citizens. Filmmakers who use that as an advantage to spread good are the ones I respect and when a filmmaker is using the same platform to talk about an issue that the majority of India needs to know about, why are they being hushed up? For what reason?

Mr Modi, you have constantly said that India is a tolerant country. Is it? When its own government and constitution cannot comprehend the importance of freedom of speech and expression, how can you expect your citizens to follow through?

Punjab is my hometown. I love the people, the traditions and culture that lives within Punjab. But if drug misuse is not brought under control, Punjab’s youth will descend towards their death. Growing up, I saw Punjab as a state that flourished with vibrancy. Now all I see is the aftermath of a state forgotten by its government and left to fend for itself. ‘Udta Punjab’ deserves to be shown in India and across the world. Those 80+ scenes deserve to be shown and Punjab itself needs to be brought to the forefront of every Indian’s mind because without that, the state and the people of Punjab and other states across India will continue to suffer.

Simran Gill

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Indian weddings: why I love and loathe them..

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Okay first of all hello to everyone once again, I’ve neglected this blog for a very long time now and thought it was about time I posted something, so here you go!


This year my family and I have been invited to a lot of weddings, when I mean a lot, I mean we have a whole pile of invitations lying around the house. Over the years I’ve loved attending weddings because they are (obviously) such a joyous occasion. However, lately I’ve started to feel that weddings (Indian weddings as such) have become an occasion to see how extravagant a wedding is rather than actually being an occasion to celebrate one’s marriage.

Now I’m a Sikh, so as a result I’ve only ever attended Indian weddings and so this post will based on my own experiences from these weddings.

Reasons why I love Indian weddings:

1) The food – nothing beats Indian food.

2) The music – my family originates from the state of Punjab in India, so obviously whilst growing up in England, I’ve been influenced by a lot of Indian music which I now happen to love.

3) The relatives – it’s great to catch up with the relatives I do like and ones I haven’t seen for a few months, okay years.

That’s about it. Considerably short, I know and I also now realise that my reasons for loathing the weddings is probably going to be very long so just bare with me.

Reasons why I loathe Indian weddings:

1) The amount of people that attend – seriously if you’ve ever been to an Indian wedding, you’ll know what I’m talking about. As if having just family wasn’t enough, let’s call over the whole neighbourhood and act like we know every single person that attends.

2) The match-making aunties – okay I know this may seem insignificant but seriously if you’re a single woman from the ages of 18-28 you should probably run. For some reason weddings become a match-making event to try and hook up young girls and boys. Like hello, we’re here to see someone get married, not plan our own wedding!

3) Buffet service – I know I said I love the food but when there’s a buffet service remember to just duck. It’s amazing how fast people run for food, I mean it’s not like the food is going anywhere right?

4) The drunkard men who can’t dance – this seriously ticks me off. Now if you want to get drunk by all means knock yourself out. But if you then proceed to dance after and step on my toes whilst doing so, I will hunt you down! It irritates me how easily some men throw down their liquor and then continue on to the dance floor as if they own it. Sorry to all those men who do behave but you know this happens so much now that it never fails to annoy me.

5) The gossiping aunties – they’re back! This time wreaking havoc upon innocent wedding guests by gossiping about their personal lives. I mean seriously if I’m studying English Literature at university instead of Medicine, how is it any of your business woman? Also word of advice aunties, if you’re sitting on the same table as me and gossiping about me, there’s a very likely chance that I can hear you, so take your gossiping somewhere else.

6) The cameraman – again those of you who have been to an Indian wedding will know that the cameraman always makes a video of you at the wrong time. Whether it’s when there’s food falling out of your mouth, or if you’re in the middle of cleaning your nose or even when you’re giving a dirty look to a drunken person on the dance floor, they always get your bad side and I don’t know about you but that really puts a downpour on my wedding celebrations.

7) The DJ and the dance floor – now if you’re going to invite 1000 people at least have a place that can accommodate us all. I love dancing at Indian weddings so I’m always disappointed when the dance floor isn’t big enough, the solution: don’t invite 1000 people. Also the DJ is usually quite good but for some reason whenever I get onto the dance floor, he/she always puts on the weirdest songs, that I’ve definitely never heard of. I mean why do this? Why not just play what you were playing 2 minutes ago instead of cutting it off for a song that makes no sense.

8) The competitions – now this may sound like a joke but it isn’t. At Indian weddings, everyone is competing against each other for various different things such as: which girl has the better hairstyle or dress, which guy can drink the most beer, who can stay on the dance floor the longest, who can eat the most food, who looks better the bride or groom (as if you can really compare them *face palm*), who can give the most expensive gifts, who can throw around the biggest amount of money onto the dance floor (trust me this happens) and the list is never-ending, so you get my point.

Now I think that’s all but as always this is just based from my own experience so if you disagree with any or all not to worry everyone has their own opinions and you’re most definitely entitled to one, as am I. I hope I haven’t offended anyone but in all honesty this is how I feel about most Indian weddings that I have attended in the past. That’s not to say every wedding has been weird, there have been some weird AND wonderful ones but I guess that’s just how we Indians roll.

I had a blast writing this post and would like to thank my sister for throwing around some ideas for me to include! Hope you enjoyed this post and if you haven’t been to an Indian wedding, I hope I haven’t scared you off! Really they’re not that bad – I promise. 😉