The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea filed by social activist Agnivesh, asking for some scenes from the film Padmaavat to be deleted, PTI reported.
The petitioner had argued that the scenes of jauhar – the medieval custom of Hindu women immolating themselves in huge groups to avoid capture by invaders – were promoting of the practice of sati. This is a funeral custom, now banned in India, in which a widow immolates herself on the pyre of her husband.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also rejected Agnivesh’s plea for a First Information Report against producer and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali for glorifying jauhar. “Once the Central Board of Film Certification clears the movie, deletion of scenes cannot be ordered,” the bench, also comprising judges AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said.
The Supreme Court had in January lifted the ban imposed on the movie by governments of four states. “Don’t watch the movie if you don’t want to, but there cannot be a ban on screening,” the court had said. The censor board had passed the film after its name was changed from Padmavati to Padmaavat. The movie was stalled by repeated protests and threats of violence by Rajput groups, led by Rajput Karni Sena, and the delay in certification.
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 Jayasi. Relying on folklore, legend, history and the imagination, Padmavat explores Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji’s lust for the 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 Padmavat a romanticised account of the battle in Chittor. The story has been widely adapted for the screen without incident in the past, including by Hindi and Tamil producers, and for television.