Filmmakers and workers across India announced a 15-minute blackout on Sunday in protest against the Rajput Karni Sena and other groups, whose agitation and threats stalled the release of the film Padmavati, PTI reported.

The Indian Films and TV Directors’ Association and 19 other organisations of the film and television industry stopped shooting for 15 minutes to protect the right to freedom of expression.

In Mumbai, around 1,000 people from the industry took part in the protest. The Indian Motion Picture Producers Association, Western India Cinematographers Association, Screen Writers Association, The Film and Television Producers Guild of India Limited, the Association of Voice Artistes, Cine Costume & Make-up Artiste and Hair Dressers Association, Cine Singer Association and Movie Stunt Artistes Association all protested at Mumbai’s Film City on Sunday.

“Over 600-700 people from the entire film industry in India will come together in support of Padmavati,” Ashoke Pandit, filmmaker and convener of the The Indian Films and TV Directors’ Association, told PTI. “All shoots across India will be halted from 4.15 pm to 4.30 pm. We are trying to say, ‘Let us know, are we free people? Are we living in a democratic country?’”

The controversy

Padmavati, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, has been in the midst of a controversy since January, with Rajput groups and others accusing Bhansali of distorting history.

In the past few weeks, Padukone and Bhansali have received a number of threats. Mahipal Singh Makrana, Rajput Karni Sena’s state president, openly threatened to chop off Padukone’s nose for her role in the film. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief media coordinator for Haryana, Suraj Pal Amu, announced a Rs 10-crore reward for anyone who beheads Padukone and Bhansali.

After these threats, Viacom18 Motion Pictures – the co-producers of Padmavati – said they had decided to “voluntarily defer” its release. The movie was scheduled to be out on December 1.

The Supreme Court has refused to interfere in the controversy. Lawyer ML Sharma had moved the court asking for the “objectionable scenes” to be deleted, but the court said, “We cannot interfere with the Central Board of Film Certification’s work.”