LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — Acclaimed Bollywood filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed an opera of a Sufi poem Padmavat at the Châtelet theatre in Paris in 2008, becoming the first Indian to direct an opera in Paris and Rome. The opera made its debut at the 51st Spoleto festival, and will now be retold in the form of a visual cinematic extravaganza, starring one of the biggest names in Indian cinema, Deepika Padukone. The film has been mired in controversy in India long before its release. Originally set to release world-wide on Friday, December 1st, the film release was voluntarily deferred by Viacom 18. Earlier in November they released a statement,
“The studio has voluntarily deferred the release date of Padmavati from 1 December, 2017. Along with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, amongst the most gifted film makers of his generation, Viacom18 Motion Pictures has created a beautiful cinematic masterpiece in Padmavati that captures Rajput valor, dignity and tradition in all its glory. The film is an eloquent portrayal of a tale that will fill every Indian with pride and showcase our country’s story-telling prowess across the globe. We are a responsible, law-abiding corporate citizen and have the highest respect and regard for the law of the land and all our institutions and statutory bodies including the Central Board of Film Certification. We always have and are committed to continue following the established procedure and convention. We have faith that we will soon obtain the requisite clearances to release the film. We will announce the revised release date of the film in due course. We stand firm in our commitment to tell endearing tales that resonate with our audiences the world over as we have in the past with our other projects such as Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Queen, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and many more.”
It all started in January when Bhansali was assaulted during the filming by a mob consisting of Karni Sena members, a Rajput group. In Padmavati, the Rajput queen Padmini chose to kill herself by self-immolation rather than be captured by the Muslim sultan, Alauddin Khilji.
Paramount Pictures which is set to distribute its first Bollywood release has the exclusive rights in international markets outside of India. Directed by Bhansali, ‘Padmavati’ stars Deepika Padukone in the lead role of Rani Padmavati, Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji. ‘Padmavati’ recounts the tale of Rani Padmavati – the legendary Mewar queen known as much for her beauty and intelligence as she was for her courage, her husband Maharawal Ratan Singh – a glorious Rajput ruler and a warrior king who fought till his dying breath to defend his kingdom and his wife’s honor and Sultan Alauddin Khilji – an ambitious and obsessive invader, who left no stone unturned in his pursuit of Padmavati.
Protestors of the film, claim that Alauddin Khilji was a brutal ruler and Bhansali’s film glamorizes him.
In addition, Rajput community has been up in arms about the portrayal of their Queen Padmini of Chittorgarh.
With state elections looming in Gujarat, community leaders from the ruling BJP have written to the Chief Election Commissioner demanding the stalling of the release of the film ahead of Gujarat elections.
According to reports, BJP vice-president I.K. Jadeja has received representations from Kshatriya community in
17-18 districts of Gujarat expressing concern about distortion of history in the movie.
Steeped in quintessential Bhansali-esq extravaganza of India’s rich and vibrant culture, adorned with classical folk music and paying tribute to a glorious era, the trailer of ‘Padmavati’ gives the audiences a glimpse of the magnanimity of the film, complete with ornate sets, perfectly co-ordinated elaborate dance sequences and exquisite costumes.
Meanwhile, the Central Board of Film Certification has yet to clear the film and with the local elections looming in Rajasthan. Director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali had to leave his residence in Mumbai with Police protection.
The filmmakers, including Bollywood’s top-paid actress and the protagonist, Deepika Padukone tweeted in disbelief calling for action
Who are these people?Who is responsible for their actions?For how long are we going to let this go on? pic.twitter.com/2WFN0jcdua
— Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone) October 18, 2017
With unconfirmed reports of the film being deferred into 2018, the activists continue to find newer ways to rage and stop the film from hitting the screens. Indian states like Rajasthan, UP, Jaipur have already announced that they won’t allow the screening of the film even if the Certification Board passes it. And while the Indian Censor Board has yet to give the green light, the British Censor Board has cleared Padmavati for a December 1st release.
With all the talk about the progress and innovation in India, one has to question the motivation of the