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UP mulls release of ‘Padmaavat’ amid opposition

After the Supreme Court order staying the ban by four-BJP ruled states on the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’, the Yogi government is gearing up for the film’s January 25 release despite continuing opposition from Rajput bodies.

lucknow Updated: Jan 19, 2018 13:42 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh,Padmaavat,Opposition

After the Supreme Court order staying the ban by four-BJP ruled states on the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’, the Yogi government is gearing up for the film’s January 25 release despite continuing opposition from Rajput bodies.

In fact, the All India Kshatriya Mahasabha led by its chief Harivansh Singh, a Rajput MP from Pratapgarh, has convened a meeting on Friday to discuss Thursday’s interim order of the apex court.

Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana governments had banned the screening of the movie in their states.

Senior UP government officials, who had in August 2011 seen apex court striking down the state government’s two month ban on the screening of Prakash Jha’s ‘Aarakhshan’, admit that Thursday’s order leaves no room for any doubt on the release of the movie.

The film’s December 1 release had to be stalled after angry Rajput bodies started announcing bounties on the filmmaker and actors of the movie.

UP chief minister Adityanath, whose government was among the first few to write to the Centre to defer the film’s previous release, had later in a terse comment declared Bhansali “as guilty as those issuing threats.”

UP’s deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had then said the film won’t be screened in UP without ‘cuts’.

But now, the film in its revised avatar has a changed title ‘Padmaavat’ from the original ‘Padmavati’ and several cuts.

“The state can only ban a film if its release creates a law and order issue. But, then the law and order clearly is a state subject and the state government wouldn’t like to be seen as pandering to the demands of a particular community because it then sets a bad precedent,” an official said.

The Rajput groups, many of whom had initially found ready support from the BJP governments in many states, admit that the Thursday’s court order might leave the government with little option.

“There is none beyond the Supreme Court but we continue to believe that the film shouldn’t be screened. Youths of our community are agitated. Many are making it appear as a Rajput issue but it is about Hindu pride. We are meeting tomorrow after which we would make our decision public,” Harivansh Singh said.

Another office-bearer of the Rajput body said while they did not want to put the Yogi government in a moral dilemma, they would like the theatre owners to consider people’s sentiments and voluntarily decide against screening the movie.

While UP’s principal secretary, home, Arvind Kumar didn’t respond to calls and messages, the state’s acting director general of police Anand Kumar said the police would fully implement law and order.

“We would provide security to theatre owners screening the film. If there are protests, we would talk to the protestors and persuade them. In a democracy, everyone has a right to air their views within limits,” he said.

Efforts to get a government version, including that of deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, on the issue proved futile.

Prior to the court’s order, a body ‘Hindu Sena’ had threatened to demonstrate outside theatres screening the film and some youths had burnt an effigy of Bhansali.

“It’s the job of the state to provide protection. We are confident of a great opening,” a cinema hall owner said.

First Published: Jan 19, 2018 13:42 IST