Padmavati becomes Padmavat to clear censor test, Rajput groups warn of violence
The censor board on Saturday said it would clear controversial Bollywood film Padmavati after suggesting five major modifications, including changing the title to Padmavat, but the move failed to pacify Rajput groups that allege the movie distorts history.
A fringe group warned of vandalising cinema halls if the Rs 150-crore movie was released and Vishvaraj Singh, a descendent of the royal family of Mewar, called the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) “ignoble and unprofessional”.
The CBFC agreed to clear Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati with a U/A certificate and asked the filmmakers to put in a disclaimer that the movie does not claim historical accuracy and does not in any way subscribe to or seek to glorify the practice of Jauhar.
The suggestions also included changing any incorrect and misleading reference to historical places, and modifications to a song in the film in which a Ghoomar dance is performed.
The censor board’s certificate will be issued once these changes are made and the movie re-examined.
Joshi reportedly said that filmmakers had agreed to the CBFC’s suggestions, but no official comment was issued by Viacom18. A meeting is reportedly on the cards between the filmmakers and censor board officials in January.
“This was an unprecedented and tough situation. I am glad that following a balanced approach we resolved the task at hand in a pragmatic and positive manner,” CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi said.
The board took the decision after its examining committee and a special advisory panel met on December 28 to review the film featuring actor Deepika Padukone as Rajput queen Padmavati.
The film is based on Padmavat, a 16th-century poem written by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, who gives an account of a Rajput queen of Chittor who chooses to kill herself rather than be captured by Delhi ruler Alauddin Khilji.
Historians are divided about whether the queen existed, but many Rajputs believe she did and accuse Bhansali of portraying her in a bad light. Rajput groups were angry that the movie allegedly contained a romantic scene between the queen and Khilji, who had attacked the Mewar capital of Chittorgarh.
The Shri Rajput Karni Sena, a fringe outfit that made dire threats against the film’s cast and disrupted shooting in January, reacted with caution to the censor board’s decision.
“I would wait for some clarity to emerge before commenting. For now, I would like to point out that only three of the nine panel members have watched the screening. Let’s wait and watch,” said Lokendra Singh Kalvi, the group’s chief.
Other outfits such as the Rajput Sabha and Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena announced they would not let theatres screen the film even with the changes.
“The panel formed to watch the movie was of the view that historical facts were distorted. That shows the CBFC went out of its way to help the filmmaker. We will protest if the film is released and the government will face the music,” said Rajput Sabha president Giriraj Singh Lotawara.
Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi, chief of the Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena, warned of a violent stir if the film was released. “We will vandalise cinema halls. We want a complete ban,” he said.
Vishvaraj Singh, son of Mahendra Singh Mewar, the 76th Maharana of Mewar, wrote in a letter to CBFC chief Joshi that the board is “just as ignoble as those distorting and seeking to profit from the history of this country and my family”.
Earlier this month, the censor board asked the erstwhile Mewar royal family to join the advisory panel to help review Bhansali’s period drama.
Rajput groups object to the Ghoomar song, alleging that it portrays Padmavati in a courtesan-like manner. They said queens never performed Ghoomar, a traditional folk dance.
Reacting to the CBFC decision on Saturday, filmmakers Anubhav Sinha and Rahul Dholakia took to social media to slam the censor board.
“So Bhansali can now actually throw a party. Just that whisky will be called ‘whiska’, vodka will be called ‘vodki’ and so on,” Sinha tweeted.
Dholakia posted on Twitter: “Disgusted by the open and blatant use of political muscle to screw filmmakers during elections. Now that Gujarat and Himachal are won, ‘Padmavati’ has got its U/A, it will be praised…”
(With agency inputs)