Central Board of Film Certification chairperson Prasoon Joshi asserted on Monday that the board had the power to take the final decision on clearing Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, and that the special panel constituted to examine the movie knew that its role was limited to being advisory.
The CBFC had granted a U/A certificate to Padmavati on December 30 after suggesting five modifications, including extended disclaimers, and a change in the title from Padmavati to Padmavat. After some erstwhile royal family members, including one who was part of the panel, criticised the censor board’s decision, Joshi hit back. “Let’s be clear that the role of the special panel was to give advice and add perspective to the CBFC’s regular panel for which the CBFC is appreciative and thankful,” he said. “The final decision stays with the CBFC Committee. The special panel was aware of this as well.”
Joshi said the censor board had taken a “pragmatic and balanced view” and there should be no “unnecessary controversy” over it.
Earlier, Arvind Singh Mewar, who was part of the special panel along with historian Chandramani Singh and Professor KK Singh of Jaipur University, told The Times of India that he was opposed to the movie’s release. “We’re not against movies based on history, but they need to be historically correct,” Arvind Singh Mewar said. “There is an urgent need for a law that clearly demarcates the limits in the portrayal of historical characters...What they want to show by making such a film is beyond my understanding.”
Mewar added, “The panel was clearly against the release and the moviemakers and the board are well aware of the unrest taking place across the country. Despite all this, if they decide to go ahead with the release, they should be ready to face the consequences, which I cannot predict at this stage.”
Bhansali’s adaptation of the 16th-century poem Padmavat stars Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor. The movie chronicles the siege of the Rajput kingdom of Chittor by Alaudin Khilji, who is driven by his lust for Queen Padmavati. The queen is widely considered to be a fictional character, but the movie has come under repeated and violent attacks by chauvinist Rajput groups who claim it distorts history and hurts the community’s pride.
Another Mewar royal, Mahendra Singh, wrote to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry opposing the CBFC’s decision. “The movie is likely to cause social unrest and such hurried certification and continuing misrepresentation can only bring disrepute to the CBFC,” Mahendra Singh reportedly wrote. “The impression being given is that the panelists who saw the movie were in agreement over its release with the reported modifications. However, two members of the panel have gone on record to state that they were not in agreement to the release.”
His son, Vishvaraj Singh, had also written to Prasoon Joshi on December 30. “Cosmetic changes like the proposed change in name will not change the fact that that the movie refers to real places, my ancestors and other persons in history with their names continuing to remain the same,” he reportedly said.