In the wake of death threats, attacks on the sets and demands for a ban, Padmavati co-producer Viacom18 Motion Pictures announced on Sunday that it had voluntarily postponed the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati that had been scheduled for December 1. It has not announced a new date.
Padmavati, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, has been vehemently opposed by right wing groups alleging that the movie distorts history in its representation of Padmini, who is considered a symbol of Rajput pride and honour. Historians say that narrative on which the film is based is a myth.
The news of the movie’s postponement evoked mixed reactions on Twitter and speculation on the reasons for the delay. Many users expressed disappointment that the film’s makers had to bow down to the demands of belligerent parties.
Since the protests started in January, some filmmakers and actors have expressed support for Bhansali’s movie. Following news of the postponement, Simran and Aligarh director Hansal Mehta wrote on his Twitter profile that he was sad that “bullies had prevailed again” and also referred to the controversy over the films S Durga and Nude being removed from the final list of movies to be screened at the International Film Festival of India in Goa later this month. Some also rued that the film industry had failed to unite and out-shout the opposition.
Some believe that the Gujarat Legislative Assembly election on December 9 and 18 was responsible for the delay.
Viacom18 Motion Pictures’ decision, however, opens up doors for other December releases to move up the release calendar and for an unforeseen clash between Padmavati and the other major year-end release, Salman Khan-starrer Tiger Zinda Hai (out on December 22). Some moviegoers were elated by the possibility, though others said it was not likely to happen.