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Padmavati controversy: Amid threats and protests, producers defer its release

The release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati has been deferred. The film has been in the eye of storm for allegedly distorting history and presenting the queen in a poor light. The makers have dismissed these claims.

india Updated: Nov 19, 2017 22:40 IST
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The release of Padmavati has been deferred by the makers.

The makers of Padmavati have put off the release of the film after a wave of protests from multiple Rajput groups and dire threats to lead actors Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Viacom18 Motion Pictures, the studio behind the period drama, said, “We will announce the revised release date of the film in due course.”

The film has been mired in controversy over conjectures that it “distorts history” regarding Rajput queen Padmini, a charge that Bhansali has repeatedly denied.

On Sunday, Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya joined the anti-Padmavati chorus, saying the film’s screening will be allowed in the state only after ‘objectionable scenes’ are edited out.

“The state government has made it clear that the movie will be allowed to be screened in Uttar Pradesh only if objectionable parts are removed,” he said while interacting with reporters after addressing a rally in support of BJP candidate in Kushinagar.

Three days ago, the state government had written to the Union information and broadcasting ministry, expressing apprehension that the release of the film on December 1 could lead to serious “law and order problems” in the state.

The announcement by the producers deferring the film’s release came a day after Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje urged Information and Broadcasting minister Smriti Irani to ensure the movie is not released without necessary changes so that it does not hurt the sentiments of any community.

Incidentally, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Prasoon Joshi had slammed the makers of the film on Saturday for allowing the film to be screened for some media channels before obtaining a certificate from the board. The CBFC had sent the film back to the producer as the application for the certification was “incomplete”.

The studio said in a statement it had the highest respect and regard for the law of the land and all institutions and statutory bodies, including the CBFC. “We have faith that we will soon obtain the requisite clearances to release the film,” the statement added.

The studio said the film was a cinematic masterpiece capturing “Rajput valour, dignity and tradition in all its glory”. “The film is an eloquent portrayal of a tale that will fill every Indian with pride and showcase our country’s story-telling prowess across the globe,” it added.

The film’s star, Padukone, said in an interview on Saturday: “As a woman, as an artiste, as someone who has worked and given two years of my life to this movie, I feel hurt, I feel angry…”

The Shri Rajput Karni Sena, which has been spearheading protests against the film, deferred its Bharat Bandh, scheduled for December 1, hours after the studio put off the release.

The organisation would “meet them in the field” whenever the film is released, said Karni Sena patron Lokendra Singh Kalvi in Jaipur. He called Bhansali a “cultural goon”, “trickster” and “regular offender” and said the movie’s release being put off was a part of his continued “drama”.

Watch: Bhansali reacts to attacks on his film

Meanwhile, more fringe outfits have jumped into the fray to issue threats and announce rewards on the heads of the lead actors and director of Padmavati.

Haryana BJP’s chief media coordinator Suraj Pal Amu on Sunday passed derogatory remarks against Bhansali, Padukone and Ranveer Singh.

In a statement to news agency ANI, Amu threatened actor Ranveer Singh, who plays the role of Alauddin Khilji in the movie, for supporting Bhansali.

“If you (Ranveer Singh) do not take back your words, we will break your legs,” he said, adding slurs against the actor.

He also praised the Meerut youth for announcing Rs 5 crore bounty for beheading Deepika and Bhansali.

“I want to congratulate the Meerut youth for announcing Rs 5 crore bounty for beheading Deepika, and Bhansali. We will reward the ones beheading them, with Rs 10 crore, and also take care of their family’s needs,” he added.

Amu also claimed he was ready to quit the BJP for his remarks, and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to speak up against the release of the film.

Another fringe group from UP on Sunday targeted actor Deepika Padukone, announcing a reward of Rs 1 crore for anyone ‘burning her alive’.

Making the announcement in Bareilly, Yuva Kshatriya Mahasabha chief Bhuvneshwar Singh claimed the film ‘maligns the character of Rajput queen Padmavati’.

In Kota, Rajput women wore turbans and wielded swords to demand a ban on the film. They said the women’s wing of the Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena would start a signature campaign across Kota from Monday to demand a ban on the film.

While Karni Sena has been at the forefront of the protests former royals of Rajasthan and leaders of other communities have also joined the chorus against it.

Padmavati has been facing controversy since Bhansali started shooting the film earlier this year. Members of the Karni Sena allegedly roughed up Bhansali and vandalised the sets of the film at Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur.

The first poster of the movie was released in October and triggered a storm with various Rajput groups and others claiming that the director had “distorted” historical facts.

Mumbai police stepped up security for Bhansali and Padukone after threats. The film fraternity has come out in support of Bhansali and the team, with many leading artistes calling it an attack on creative freedom.

Rani Padmini enjoys an important place in Indian literature but her place in history is disputed amid debates over her existence.

First Published: Nov 19, 2017 15:08 IST