Padmavati has been renamed Padmavat, and will be released on January 25, confirmed a source from producer and distributor Viacom18 Motion Pictures.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s beleaguered production was cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification in December with a UA certificate and disclaimers about its depiction of fourteenth-century Rajasthani royalty and the practice of jauhar (mass suicide). The 164-minute movie will crash Akshay Kumar’s party, since it will share the screen with his social drama Pad Man, directed by R Balki and starring Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor.
Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary, a patriotic espionage thriller starring Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee and co-produced by Friday Filmworks and Reliance Entertainment, has changed its release date from January 26 to February 9 to avoid being squeezed between the other two movies, a source from Reliance Entertainment confirmed. Aiyaary will now clash with Luv Ranjan’s romcom Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety.
The release date for Padmavat, which has also been converted to 3D, was originally December 1. The movie was stalled by repeated protests and threats of violence by Rajput groups, led by Rajput Karni Sena, and a delay in certification. The censor board, headed by Prasoon Joshi, appointed a panel of historians to investigate the claim that the movie contains historical inaccuracies. The movie was finally cleared with a few changes on the condition that Bhansali and co-producer Viacom18 Motion Pictures changed the title from Padmavati to Padmavat to align it closer to its source material.
Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, the historical drama is based on the sixteenth-century poem of the same name by Malik Muhammad Jaisi. 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.
Padmavat will continue to face challenges all the way until its release. Viacom18 Motion Pictures, which will distribute the movie across India, will face stiff competition for screens from Pad Man, which had booked the lucrative Republic Day long weekend months in advance. The movie has been preemptively banned in Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab, which makes recovery of its rumoured Rs 150-crore budget a steep task. The Rajput Karni Sena leadership has declared that it will continue with its agitation and has threatened to burn down cinema halls showing Padmavat.
Bid-budget productions have clashed at the box office in the past, such as Dil and Ghayal, Lagaan and Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, Don and Jaan-e-Mann, Saawariya and Om Shanti Om, Son of Sardaar and Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Shivaay, and Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani. The norm in recent years has been to allow an A-list production to be the solo release of the week and have a free run of the box office. Pad Man owned the Republic Day weekend until Aiyaary, and eventually Padmavat, came along.