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Padmaavat: What’s the fuss about? Viewers wonder after watching Bhansali’s film

Padmaavat finally released in theatres on Thursday to lukewarm critical response but a generous applause from viewers.

Padmavati Row Updated: Jan 25, 2018 18:07 IST
Press Trust of India
Padmaavat,Deepika Padukone,Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Deepika Padukone in a still from Padmaavat.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat finally opened on Thursday amid tight security and palpable tension but audiences streamed in to theatres across the country to watch the film that has the nation agog.

Initial reports suggested good business for the film, which has been the focal point of protests by various Rajput groups, which allege that it distorts their history and defames their queen Padmavati.

While the occupancy in Delhi was around 60 to 70% for the first show at 9 am, in Mumbai it was lower at 40-45%.

Shows later in the day, including late night, were almost packed. Given that it’s a long weekend, trade analysts were hopeful that business would be good.

“The response has been positive so far. We are hopeful it will increase during the day and in the evening,” Mumbai-based Nitin Datar, a member of the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India, told PTI.

A woman walks past the security personnel guarding outside a cinema house, after release of the film Padmaavat in Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)

Many of those who watched the film condemned the violence of the last few weeks, particularly a school bus getting attacked in Gurugram on Wednesday, and said the film has nothing objectionable in it.

In some halls, like the Satyam Cineplex in West Delhi, the entire front row was occupied by uniformed security personnel. The hall also had bouncers.

The Rs 150 crore Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed film is a period drama based on 16th century poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic Padmavat.

Deepika Padukone plays Rani Padmavati in the film, which also features Shahid Kapoor as Maha Rawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji.

Padmaavat screening status
Madhya Pradesh: Not screened
Gujarat: Not screened
Bihar: Not screened
Rajasthan: Not screened
Uttar Pradesh: Partially screened
Haryana: Partially screened
Uttarakhand: Partially screened
Tamil Nadu: Partially screened
Punjab: screened
Himachal: Screened
Jharkhand: screened
Bengal: Screened
Himachal: Screened
Odisha: Screened
Andhra Pradesh: Screened
Maharashtra: Screened
Odisha: Screened

A Rajput viewer, who requested anonymity, made it a point to watch the first show in Mumbai’s Cinepolis and said it was an “excellent” effort by Bhansali and actually glorifies their culture.

He also said there was nothing offensive in the movie, or in the Ghoomar song.

“I am a Rajput and it pains me to see why people are behaving the way they are over this film. The violence, the threats, all are unnecessary and sad. We don’t and can never support that,” he said.

Chunky Mehta, who also watched the film in the same theatre, said it presents the Rajput community in a good light and it is a “shame” that some people are creating an unsafe atmosphere.

Security personnel guard outside a cinema house after release of the film Padmaavat in the walled city of Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)

“It is a one time watch film. But any sensible person watching the film can say that there is nothing wrong or bad in the film,” he added.

Dhruv Singh, who hails from Rajasthan, which has seen several violent protests, referred to the “dream sequence” between Padmavati and Khilji, which several groups had objected to despite Bhansali clarifying that there was no such scene.

“There was not a single dream sequence in the film so I don’t know what the fuss is all about. The attack on children, burning buses is not something we Rajputs endorse. It is shameful what’s happening.

“I would request people to not be scared and come out and watch the film. I hope the protests can finally stop,” he said.

Delhi audiences seemed to be in agreement.

Woman prepare to enter the cinema hall before the scheduled show of Bollywood film Padmaavat in Mumbai on January 25, 2018. (AFP)

“The movie is quite surreal. It has been shot beautifully. There is no dream sequence in the movie nor is there any scene featuring Ranveer and Deepika. The protests are wrong,” Varun, a professional working in an MNC, said after catching a show at the PVR Plaza in New Delhi.

A young couple was also in the audience at the early morning show and had booked their tickets in advance.

“After watching the film we felt all this violence and protests are irrelevant. There is nothing offensive about the film,” said the man, who asked not to be named.

Priya, a college student, said Bhansali honours “woman power” in his latest film.

Police officers stand outside a theatre after the release of Bollywood movie Padmaavat in Kolkata, January 25, 2018. (REUTERS)

“The way Bhansali has created Padmavati is beautiful. The female characters are really strong. I really liked Deepika in the film,” she said.

Banker Vineet, who was queuing up to catch a show, said he was not scared and would not miss the film just because of the unrest created by groups like the Karni Sena.

“I believe in the Constitution and I am not scared to watch this movie. I trust our police. After I see the film, I will also ask my friends to watch it as soon as possible,” he said.

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First Published: Jan 25, 2018 16:17 IST