The controversy around Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Padmavati is reaching ‘epic’ proportions.
After the recent threats to maim and kill filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his lead actor Deepika Padukone for standing up to Rajput opposition to the film, now individual state governments are expressing their angst against the film.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and his Rajasthan counterpart have announced that they will be banning the film from screening in their respective state.
“A film which distorts facts and disrespects rashtra mata Padmavati will not be allowed to screen in any part of Madhya Pradesh,” Chouhan said, adding that the film’s release would be stopped in the state even if the Censor Board cleared it.
Following in the footsteps of Chouhan, Punjab chief minister and member of the royal family of Patiala, Capt Amarinder Singh also said that any “distortion of history” will not be accepted.
He said he’d been to Chittorgarh (where Rani Padmini allegedly set herself ablaze to protect her honour when Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji came to conquer her) and history told a completely different story from that being portrayed in Bhansali’s film.
Similar cries to ban the film have been heard in Jammu & Kashmir as well, where Devender Rana, National Conference MLA, wrote to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and asked her to stop the release of the the film lest it fans aggrieved sentiments in the Jammu region.
BJP national general secretary and Haryana state incharge Dr Anil Jain also said the mood in the state was to not release the film if it didn’t delete objectionable scenes.
Amid all these, eyes are now on the Central Film Certification Board (CBFC) of India.
Speaking to Mail Today exclusively, CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi said, “It’s a special case. Let’s not put all the pressure on the CBFC. It’s unfair.”
He added that the CBFC was working at arriving at a “well thought-out and balanced” decision at the earliest.
Recently, while speaking exclusively to India Today, Maharana Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur had said he was ready to play mediator between the aggrieved groups and the makers of the film.
“People here will listen to me. But Bhansali needs to be ready to show his film to a small panel. I can help set it up. We need to end this madness.”
The CBFC, for its part, has returned the film to the producers saying it was missing a disclaimer that would make it clear if the film was based on historical fact or fiction. It has also rejected makers’ request to speed up the certification process.
Some have questioned this delay. Filmmaker Shyam Benegal has found the CBFC’s act “suspicious”.
Many are miffed over IB ministry’s silence over the issue. Shabana Azmi has boycotted the International Film Festival of India over as a mark of protest.
Actor Shahid Kapoor, who plays Maharawal Ratan Singh in the film, has broken his silence on India Today TV for the first time since the controversy erupted.
He said he was optimistic the film would see the light of day and called in the authorities to take to task the self-appointed custodians of history, who were issuing death threats against Bhansali and Padukone.