Central Board of Film Certification Chairman Prasoon Joshi on Saturday criticised Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the producers of Padmavati for screening of the film for select media houses even before it was certified by the board. Joshi said the select screening “compromised the role of systems and balances that are part of a functioning industry”.

“It is myopic to treat certification process haphazardly to suit convenience,” Joshi told ANI. “On one hand, the CBFC is being pressurised to accelerate the process, and on the other hand, it is an attempt to subvert the very process. It sets an opportunistic precedent.”

It was reported on Friday that the censor board had rejected Padmavati’s application as the paper work was incomplete. “The disclaimer whether the film is a work of fiction or historical was left blank,” Joshi said. “On being asked to provide the important documents, the CBFC is being targetted for ‘looking the other way’. It is surprising.”

Joshi was referring to a tweet made by the chief executive officer of Viacom18 pictures, Ajay Andhare. “What an irony, those who are supposed to watch are looking the other way and we have to run around and show it at other forums to ‘clear’ it,” Andhare had said.

Journalists Rajat Sharma and Arnab Goswami have defended Bhansali and Padmavati, saying there was no distortion of history in the film. “After watching the entire film, I can emphatically say that there is not a single dialogue, not a single scene, not a single sequence that can be said to go against the proud history of the Rajputs of Rajasthan,” Sharma said on his show Aaj Ki Baat on Friday.

Goswami even called Padmavati the “greatest ever tribute to Rajput pride”. Speaking on his primetime show on Republic TV, Goswami asserted that members of the Karni Sena will “be left looking utterly foolish once the movie hits the box office”.

Padmavati, based on Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic poem Padmavat, is scheduled to release on December 1. Padmavati, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, has been in the midst of a controversy since January when members of the Rajput Karni Sena assaulted Bhansali on the set of the movie in Jaipur. The Karni Sena is against a supposed romantic scene between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji, which Bhansali had said was not in the film.