New Delhi: The Uttar Pradesh government has reportedly asked the central Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to defer the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati because of “public anger” over the “script” and “distorted historical facts”. The release of the film, the state government’s letter to the ministry says, could lead to an “adverse effect” on the law and order situation and also “pose serious security issues”.
The letter, from UP’s principal secretary (home) Arvind Kumar, also says that the administration will be busy on December 1 – the date of the film’s release – with the counting of civic poll votes and preparations for the Muslim festival Barawafat, Indian Express reported. “…while movies based on facts, with positive stories, motivate and influence the society to move on the right path, movies with distorted historical facts, exaggeration, false and fictional stories create a vicious atmosphere in the nation and society, develop social hatred and generate serious challenges for law and order,” the letter says.
Kumar has also asked the ministry to tell the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC), who also received a copy of the letter, to take cognisance of the issues raised by various groups while judging the film. “The Censor Board members should take a decision after taking into account people’s views. They should be apprised about it. It has come to the notice through intelligence reports that the film’s producers have presented the movie for Censor Board clearance. After the release of the trailer of the movie on October 9, various social and other organisations opposed the film,” Hindustan Times quoted from the letter.
“Various social, cultural and other organisations have staged protests after the launch of the trailer on October 9, stating that the film has shown a ‘Ghoomar dance’ by Rani Padmavati and her love affair with Allauddin Khilji, which is not mentioned in any history book. Demanding to ban the screening of the film, these organisations have been giving strong reactions through demonstrations, sloganeering, processions, memorandum and torching effigies,” Kumar continues.
The Karni Sena, a Rajput group, has called for a nationwide bandh on the day of the film’s release. BJP leaders in Uttar Pradesh have also opposed the film; one MP and two MLAs from the state have written to chief minister Adityanath asking him to ban the film’s release in Aligarh, Indian Express reported.
CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi told IANS that the board is yet to watch the film. “The speculative reports a few publications are carrying about I having watched Padmavati are absolutely baseless and untrue. I have not watched the film, not expressed any views regarding it. The film will follow the due process at CBFC.”
The film has been facing protests since last year. The sets were vandalised on two occasions and Bhansali was reportedly assaulted during one of the incidents. Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, centres around a historical legend. According to historians, the legend of Padmavati first found mention in an Awadhi poem by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. The story is that Delhi Sultan Allauddin Khilji was so enamoured by Padmavati that he wanted see her legendary beauty for himself. She was married to King Ratansen of Chittor, who refused to let Khilji see her – Rajput culture forbade women from meeting men they did not know well. Khilji then decided to invade the fort and Ratansen was defeated, the poem says. But by the time the sultan made his way into the fort to find Padmavati, she and 16,000 other woman had ended their lives in jauhar (self-immolation). Many consider the story of Padmavati to be historical fiction and popular legend, though some Rajput groups insist it actually happened and hail Padmavati and the women who died with her as the epitome of courage.