Quelling rumours of yet another delay in the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, co-producer and distributor Viacom18 Motion Pictures confirmed today that the movie will be out on January 25.
Bhansali’s period drama is based on the sixteenth-century poem Padmavat and traces Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji’s attempts to conquer Chittor and its queen, Padmini (referred to as Padmavati in the movie). The movie stars Deepika Padukone as the queen, Ranveer Singh as Khijli, and Shahid Kapoor as Padmavati’s husband Maharawal Ratan Singh. Padmaavat will be released worldwide on the same date in 2D, 3D and 3D IMAX formats, and will also be dubbed in Tamil and Telugu, the press release said.
The movie has been “cleared for release by the CBFC with a U/A release certificate post the incorporation of only 5 modifications”, the studio asserted, indirectly squashing rumours that Bhansali had to change the names of characters and locations in order to obtain the censor certificate.
Padmaavat, which was originally supposed to be released on December 1, “faced resistance from its early stages due to a misinformation campaign and rumour-mongering”, the press release noted. “Despite these challenges, the film that showcases the valor of Rani Padmavati, Maharawal Ratan Singh and the famed Rajput ethos of honor, bravery and sacrifice, has managed to overcome all odds; aided by the support of well-wishers from across the film fraternity, the government authorities and the society at large”.
The press release included a quote from Viacom18 Group CEO Sudhanshu Vats: “We are humbled with the immense support we have received from the government authorities, the Central Board of Film Certification and the entire film fraternity. Padmaavat is a story that’s inherently Indian in its context, ethos and values. In the past, international film-makers have presented Indian stories such as Gandhi, Life of Pi, The Jungle Book and others to the world. We believe that this is the right time for us to truly make in India and show the world a tale that every Indian is proud of.”
Bhansali was quoted in the release as saying, “Padmaavat is a dream come true for me. I have always been fascinated by the stories of honor, valor and vigor of our great Rajput warriors that have been captured so beautifully in our literature and this movie is my homage to those glorious stories.”
The movie was stalled by repeated protests and threats of violence by Rajput groups, led by Rajput Karni Sena, and a delay in certification. The censor board, headed by Prasoon Joshi, appointed a panel of historians to investigate the claim that the movie contains historical inaccuracies. The production was finally cleared with changes on the condition that Bhansali and co-producer Viacom18 Motion Pictures changed the title from Padmavati to Padmavat to align it closer to its source material. The studio eventually picked the title Padmaavat.
Despite the censor board’s clearance, the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have announced a ban on the movie’s release. The Rajput Karni Sena’s protests against the release continue, as do statements by various Bharatiya Janata Party ministers.
Padmaavat will clash with R Balki’s Pad Man, starring Akshay Kumar, at the box office. Neeraj Pandey’s espionage thriller Aiyaary, which was supposed to have been out on January 26, had to shift its release date to February 9 to avoid being shut out of the cinemas.