After weeks of controversy clouding, and ultimately delaying, the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic period drama, Padmavati, a Lok Sabha committee has asked the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to submit a report on the debacle by November 30. The film is set around the 14th Century invasion of the kingdom of Mewar in Rajasthan by Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji. Deepika Padukone plays the titular Rajput queen, while Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh essay the roles of Maharawal Ratan Singh (the ruler of Mewar and husband to Padmavati) and Alauddin Khilji respectively.
Fringe Rajput groups from Rajasthan as well as fringe Hindu groups from other parts of the country have been agitating for an extended period, claiming that the film is a ‘distortion of history’ as well as “hurting Rajput sentiments”. Agitations have ranged from mass protests, the abuse of and threats of physical violence against Bhansali and Padukone as well as the burning of their effigies; bounties of Rs 5-10 crores were also placed on the heads of the director and actress. Following the public uproar, several state governments including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana, banned the release of the film in their territories. Earlier, Haryana’s government had also banned the film’s screening, but has now stated that it will wait until the film gets cleared by the Censor Board before making a final decision.
Following the protests and certain procedural errors in filing paperwork with the censor board, Viacom 18, the studio behind the film, has delayed the release of the film from December 1 to a yet-to-be-decided date. A private screening of the film for ‘select individuals’ from the media, also drew censure from Censor Board chief Prasoon Joshi, as the movie hasn’t been cleared or certified yet. Incidentally, all the people who saw the film noted that it didn’t contain anything that could hurt the sentiments of Rajputs and Padmavati and Khilji never even appear in the same scene. Rumors of scenes depicting a romantic liaison between the Rajput queen and the Delhi sultan were among the chief grouses of protesters.
The parliamentary committee, apart from requesting the report, has also asked officials from the censor board and I&B ministry to appear before it.