Movie censorship

After months of protest, Karni Sena says it is ready to watch ‘Padmaavat’ before its release

The group was responding to director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s invitation, a leader said.

The Rajput Karni Sena, the group whose protests have played a major role in the controversy around the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film Padmaavat, indicated on Monday that it was ready to watch the film ahead of its release on January 25, PTI reported.

The Karni Sena was reacting to director Bhansali’s invitation. “We are ready to watch the film,” Karni Sena leader Lokendra Singh Kalvi told PTI over the phone. “We never said that we will not watch the film.”

Kalvi added that Bhansali had promised to arrange a special screening a year ago. “Now he has written to us for the screening and we are ready for that,” Kalvi said. The Karni Sena’s decision seems like a softening of its stand over the film, after nearly a year of protests and just days after the group called Bhansali’s invitation a gimmick, according to IANS.

Bhansali’s production house wrote to the Karni Sena and the Rajput Sabha in Jaipur on January 20, inviting them to watch the film, the Hindustan Times reported. In the letter, the makers said the film showcased the honour and valour of the Rajput community.

The release of the historical drama, based on a 16th century poem, has been mired in controversy for months. Padmaavat’s release and certification were delayed after repeated protests and threats of violence by Rajput groups led by the Karni Sena.

The Central Board of Film Certification then appointed a panel of historians to study if the film had any historical inaccuracies. The film was finally cleared for release on January 25, with a few changes and on the condition that its name is changed from Padmavati to Padmaavat.

The governments of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat, however, said they will not screen Padmaavat. The Supreme Court set aside their orders on January 18, paving the way for the film’s release in these states. On Tuesday, the court is expected to hear pleas filed by the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh governments against this order.

Through Monday, protests against the film rocked several areas in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Noida.

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