Central Board of Film Certification Chairperson Prasoon Joshi said on Saturday that he will not attend the Jaipur Literature Festival this year so that the event’s dignity is not compromised and the focus does not shift from creativity to controversy.

The festival began on January 25. Joshi’s session, titled “Main aur Woh: Conversations with Myself” was scheduled for 2.30 pm on Saturday.

“I am doing this so that the dignity of the event does not get compromised or discomfort caused either to the organisers, fellow writers or the attendees,” Joshi said. “And also so that the lovers of literature get to focus on creativity and not controversy.”

On January 19, the Rajput Karni Sena, which has been at the forefront of the protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmaavat, had said that it would not allow Joshi to attend the event.

The Central Board of Film Certification had cleared the film, originally titled Padmavati, for release on January 25, after asking for some cuts. Violent protests took place across several states when the film was released on Thursday.

On Saturday, Joshi also referenced the controversy around the film and said that while certifying the film, he was only doing his job, and “sincerely took a sensitive and balanced” call. “As I have said earlier, certification was done with due processes, incorporating valid suggestions whilst staying mindful to the concerns of the society as well as to the canvas of cinema,” he said.

Observing that it was sad that those who disagreed with the film were not relying on genuine and peaceful dialogue, he said, “It is important that we keep mutual trust and faith in each other and our institutions so that the issues don’t reach this far.”

The movie

Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, the historical drama is based on the 16th century poem of the same name by Malik Muhammad Jaisi. Relying on folklore, legend, history and the imagination, Padmaavat explores Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji’s lust for Chittor queen Padmini, which leads to a battle that claims the lives of the queen and her husband, Ratansen.

Padmini is widely thought to be a fictional character, and Padmaavat is a romanticised account of the battle in Chittor. Protestors, however, alleged that the film has several historical inaccuracies.