News that the Central Board of Film Certification has set up a six-member panel that includes former royals and historians to review Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati has been widely criticised on Twitter.
The board has not revealed the names of the members on the panel, but CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi had earlier confirmed that it would consist of a historian, a legal expert, an official from the ministry of Information and Broadcasting and a member of the censor board.
BL Gupta and RS Khangarot are reportedly among the experts invited to join the panel. Gupta, a professor of history at the University of Rajasthan, had told Mid-Day in an interview, “I am all for artistic freedom and one’s right to express, but that must not happen at the cost of history.” In November, Khangarot argued on The Print website that “There is evidence that Padmini existed”, “This movie [Padmavati] attempts to romanticise jauhar”. and that “The movie, I believe, has factual mistakes. They can actively become a part of historical narratives (like Jodha Akbar and Mughal-e-azam). If you make a period film, it is important to note, history doesn’t belong to only one community, it belongs to the people. Hence their sentiments must be valued.”
Padmavati, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, is based on Malik Mohammed Jayasi’s 16th-century epic poem Padmavat, which details Alauddin Khilji’s siege of Chittor and his lust for Rajput queen Padmini. Padmavati’s release, earlier scheduled for December 1, has been held up by violent protests by rightwing groups, who allege that the movie distorts history and hurts Rajput sentiments.
Reports on the review panel prompted a flurry of tweets, with social media users questioning why a movie premised on a work of fiction needed to be verified for historical accuracy.
Some users also had a field day imagining the kind of experts other Hindi films would have to hire.