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Padmavati row: Madhya Pradesh bans Bhansali’s movie, Amarinder backs protests, Mamata sees a ‘plot’

Madhya Pradesh bans Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati movie, which stars Deepika Padukone, even as other state governments took contrasting stands on the demands by protesting Rajputs.

india Updated: Nov 21, 2017 08:59 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Bhopal/Chandigarh
Padmavati movie,Padmavati row,Deepika Padukone
Members of the Akhil Bhartiya Chatriya Mahasabha dismantle a poster of the movie ‘Padmavati’ in protest in Ranchi, on November 12, 2017. They have raised objections to the portrayal of Rani Padmavati, a Rajput queen on whom the character is based, in the movie.(Diwakar Prasad/ HT File Photo)

Madhya Pradesh banned Bollywood film Padmavati on Monday but the Supreme Court refused to stay its release amid mounting protests against the Rs 150-crore movie mired in controversy over the depiction of a legendary Hindu queen.

The top court said the film was yet to get the censor board’s clearance. According to a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, the court could not stop a statutory body such as the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) from carrying out its duty.

The censor board returned the film to the producers, saying the application form was “incomplete”.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan told delegations of the Rajput community, which is protesting the film’s depiction of Rani Padmini, or Padmavati, that his government won’t tolerate any “wrong portrayal of a character worshipped by the nation”.

Rajasthan will not allow the movie to be screened in the state without “necessary changes” suggested by chief minister Vasundhara Raje.

She wrote on Saturday to Union information and broadcasting minister Smriti Irani for the changes to respect the sentiments of Rajputs.

The Uttar Pradesh government has also called for cuts to remove objectionable sections from the movie, which was due to open on December 1 but its producers postponed the release amid violent protests and death threats.

As the protests mounted, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray spoke to director Sanjay Leela Bhansali after a Rajput delegation sought his intervention. The party said the filmmaker should edit out offending portions.

The protesters found a supporter in Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, who became the first Congress leader to speak out against the film.

“Nobody will accept the distortion of history and those who are protesting are rightly doing so,” ANI quoted the Congress leader as saying.

The film has been embroiled in controversy since its shooting began in January, with fringe outfits alleging it distorts history. Bhansali was attacked on set in January by a Rajput organisation.

Security was increased for Bhansali and actor Deepika Padukone, who plays the legendary figure, after several offers of bounty — including from a BJP leader from Haryana — for beheading them.

The BJP asked its leader Suraj Pal Amu to apologise publicly and explain why he offered a Rs10-crore reward this Sunday to behead both Padukone and Bhansali.

The protests were condemned as muzzling freedom of speech. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee called the row a calculated “plan of a political party to destroy the freedom to express”.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah asked his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar to take “stringent action” against those threatening Padukone.

Despite the condemnation, the row looks set to escalate.

More fringe groups have issued threats to the film’s crew. A Rajput youth from Meerut has announced a Rs1-crore bounty for beheading Padukone and Bhansali, and a Hindu group in Bareilly has announced an award of Rs 1 crore to anyone who puts the actor on fire.

Padukone pulled out of a summit in Hyderabad that US President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend on November 28.

Hardline groups called the film an insult to Rajputs and accused Bhansali of showing the Muslim aggressor as the Hindu queen’s “lover”.

The movie is based on a 16th-century poem, Padmavat, an account of a Rajput queen who chose to kill herself rather than be captured by Khilji. But historians are divided over whether the queen ever existed.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 17:05 IST