Movie censorship

After special ‘Padmaavat’ screening, Rajasthan High Court quashes FIR against Bhansali and actors

Justice Sandeep Mehta held that the movie reflected ‘our glorious past’ and ‘there is no question of religious feelings being hurt’.

The Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday quashed a Fist Information Report that was registered against Padmaavat director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and actors Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, after watching the movie at a special screening, the Hindustan Times reported. In the FIR, the complainant claimed that Padmaavat “distorts facts” or “hurts the image of Rani Padmini”.

A special screening was organised for Justice Sandeep Mehta and three others at a private theatre in Jodhpur on Monday. This is believed to be the first time Padmaavat was screened in Rajasthan, where the Multiplex Association of India said its members will not screen the film even though the Supreme Court lifted the ban imposed by the state.

On Tuesday, Justice Mehta heard the plea that sought to have the FIR disposed of. One Virendra Singh of Rajasthan’s Nagaur district filed the FIR at the Deedwana Police Station in 2017, alleging that Bhansali, Singh and Padukone had “hurt religious sentiments”.

The judge ruled that allegations of fomenting disharmony or enmity between communi­ties and hurting religious sentiments did not hold in this case. “During the hearing, the counsel for the respondent admitted that Padmavati is not a religious icon, but a historical icon,” the court observed. “In such a way, there is no question of religious feelings being hurt.”

Justice Mehta noted the disclaimer shown before the movie begins and held that Padmaavat reflected “our glorious past and the military strategy of Rani Padmavati”. He said it was “a story of the supreme sacrifice made by women”.

The High Court then directed the Rajasthan government to ensure that the Supreme Court’s order lifting the ban on Padmaavat in the state was complied with.

Padmaavat released amid protests in India on January 25, though it was initially slated to hit the screens on December 1. Its release and certification were delayed and stalled because of repeated protests and threats of violence by Rajput groups led by the Karni Sena, who maintained that film distorted the “history of Hindus” and insulted Rajput queen Padmini, even though most historians believe she was a mythical character.

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