Members of Rajput community raise slogans and hold placards during the protest against upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Padmavati’ at Faridabad, in Haryana, Nov. 18. (Press Trust of India)
Facing massive opposition at home, Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie ‘Padmavati’ was cleared uncut by the British censors even as the Supreme Court agreed, Nov. 23, to hear a plea seeking directions that the film is not released abroad on Dec. 1.
A functionary at Viacom 18 said there was no plan to release the film globally without it being cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
The controversy over the period drama raged on with an education officer in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas district issuing a circular banning a song from the film from being played in schools.
The circular was soon withdrawn and a show cause notice issued to the officer who issued it.
In the Supreme Court, a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said it would hear a plea that alleged that the makers of “Padmavati” misrepresented facts with regard to the censor board’s approval on releasing songs and the promo.
“We will take it up on Tuesday (Nov. 28). You (advocate) file a writ petition,” the bench told advocate M.L. Sharma who mentioned his fresh plea for an urgent hearing.
Sharma also alleged that grave damage will be done to social harmony if the movie was allowed to be released outside India.
He sought criminal prosecution of the makers of the movie for allegedly misrepresenting facts that the songs and promos were cleared by the CBFC.
The apex court had earlier dismissed his plea seeking to delete certain alleged objectionable scenes. It had observed that the CBFC had not yet certified the movie and the apex court could not “injunct” a statutory body from doing its duty.
The counsel for one of the respondents had told the court that the film’s promo was released and had the requisite CBFC approval.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), meanwhile, passed the film without cuts.
“’Padmavati’ (12A) moderate violence, injury detail,” stated the official website of the British censor board. “All known versions of this work passed uncut,” it said.
The 12A rating means the film cannot be viewed in UK by a child under 12 years unless accompanied by an adult.
However, sources at Viacom 18 said they were not planning to release the film anywhere in the world without the CBFC nod.
“The film was cleared by the UK censor board without any cuts. But we are waiting for censor clearance in India. Till then we will not release the film anywhere,” a source told PTI.
As the film was supposed to be released on Dec. 1, there are over 50 countries where this process (of certification) is on, he said.
The lavishly mounted film, starring Deepika Padukone in the title role, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, is a joint production by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions.
In Dewas, district education officer (DEO) Rajiv Suryavanshi directed all government and private schools to stop using the film song, titled ‘Ghoomar,’ during cultural programs.
“Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena has submitted a request letter in the honor of Maa Padmavati. It was requested that Hindu sentiments should not be offended by playing ‘Ghoomar’ song in the cultural programs being organized in schools.
So, do not use ‘Ghoomar’ song in the cultural programs in schools,” read the circular issued, Nov. 22.
However, Dewas Collector Asheesh Singh said he had directed the circular be withdrawn.
“I came to know about the circular this morning. Only the state government can issue such circulars. The DEO is not entitled to pass such an order. I have directed the DEO to immediately withdraw this order,” he said.
The DEO was also being served a show cause notice to explain his action within three days, he added.
The ‘Ghoomar’ song, which features Padukone and Kapoor, was released by the makers of the film recently.
‘Padmavati’ has been facing the wrath of various Rajput groups and political leaders, who have accused Bhansali of distorting history.
Many groups have been protesting amid rumors that there was a romantic dream sequence between Rajput queen Padmini and Allauddin Khilji. However, Bhansali said in an appeal that there was no dream sequence and it was all a rumor.
Historians are divided on whether Padmini actually existed. She finds mention in the 16th century epic poem “Padmavat.”
Earlier scheduled to arrive in cinema halls on Dec. 1, the release date of the film has now been postponed by the makers till further notice.