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Tuesday 21 January 2020

Guj bans film ‘Padmavati’ as row continues to simmer

Ahmedabad/New Delhi/Chandigarh: The Gujarat government today banned the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali film ‘Padmavati’ with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani claiming it was “hurting sentiments” of the Rajput community and would not be screened in the poll-bound state in view of law and order concerns.

A notification banning the film’s release was issued by the information and broadcasting department of the state.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of the section 6 of the Gujarat Cinemas (Regulation) Act, 2004, the government of Gujarat hereby imposes ban on Hindi feature film “Padmavati” produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions Pvt Ltd within the jurisdiction of the state of Gujarat,” the notification read.

Earlier in the day, Rupani had said he will not allow the film to release in the poll-bound state as it hurt the sentiments of the Rajput community.

“We can’t allow our history to be distorted. We believe in freedom of speech and expression but any foul play with our great culture is not tolerated,” the chief minister said.

There are issues with the film, our sympathy is with those protesting against the film and that is the reason we will not allow its release in the state till those issues are resolved, Rupani said in Ahmedabad.

“Elections are also approaching and we do not want any row here. The matter comes under law and order situation and that is the reason we have taken this decision,” Rupani said.

Asked if he had seen the film, he said, “The makers of the film should screen it for those who are protesting against it and resolve the issue. Our concern is protests and law and order situation at the time of elections.”

Several BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have expressed opposition to the film.

Rupani’s Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar, however, said that he would wait and watch for the censor board decision on the movie.

“The government will take a call upon the screening of Padmavati after the decision by CBFC,” Khattar said adding that nobody would be allowed to hurt sentiments.

He distanced himself from the Haryana BJP chief media coordinator Surajpal Singh Amu’s remarks about offering a bounty of Rs ten crore to anyone beheading Bhansali or lead actress Deepika Padukone.

“The BJP has also issued a show cause notice to Amu,” he said while also pointing to an FIR against the state leader.

The row over the Bollywood flick, meanwhile, continued to simmer with the Shri Rajput Karni Sena demanding that its reels be “consigned to the flames of Jauhar”.

Former CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, in an editorial in party organ ‘Peoples’ Democracy’, compared the protesters with cow vigilantes, and said “mob rule” had become one of the “hallmarks of the Modi raj”.

The controversy also reached the portals of Parliament as a House panel sought a report on the film from the I&B ministry and the censor board.

The matter was taken up for consideration by the Lok Sabha Committee on Petitions after two BJP MPs from Rajasthan, CP Joshi and Om Birla, filed a plea regarding objectionable content in the movie.

Joshi said that the movie should be shown to historians and the descendants of the erstwhile royal families, who trace their lineage to Padmavati, before release.

“The panel has referred the matter to the I&B Ministry and the censor board. It has asked them to submit a report before November 30,” BJP leader Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who heads the panel, said.

The Karni Sena, which is leading the protests against the film, continued its offensive. “Its reel should be consigned to the flames of ‘Jauhar’,” Lokendra Singh Kalvi, chief of the outfit, told reporters in New Delhi.

He lashed at Padukone for her remarks that no force could stop the film’s release. “Who is Deepika Padukone? Is she the president or the prime minister? This film will not be released at any cost,” he said.

Asked on what basis was he claiming that the film distorted history, Kalvi said it was his “assumption” based on an alleged statement of Ranveer Singh, who plays Alauddin Khilji in the movie.

Director Bhansali recently clarified that rumours about a romantic dream sequence between Rani Padmavati and Khilji’s characters were not true as he was careful in depicting “Rajput honour and dignity”.

Kalvi also alleged to have received “life threats” from unknown numbers, one of which “was traced back to Karachi”.

In Lucknow, a complaint was filed in a court seeking prosecution against Bhansali for showing the film to three journalists without the censor nod.

Many groups have been protesting against the movie alleging distorting of history. Historians are, however, divided on whether Rani Padmavati even existed.

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