New Delhi: Actor and activist Shabana Azmi issued a scathing criticism of the governments of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and the ruling BJP of Gujarat over their requests to delay the release of Bollywood film Padmavati. The makers of the film - which is facing massive protests - today said that they had "voluntarily deferred the release date of the film from December 1st 2017".
- Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed film accused of distorting history
- Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh governments have asked for release to be delayed
- Azmi says Rajasthan Chief Minister 'sitting pretty' amid violent threats
Reiterating her call to the film industry to unite and boycott the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) that is scheduled to begin in Goa tomorrow, Ms Azmi, in a press statement, said Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was "sitting pretty".
"The First Information Report is under Arms Act because there was open fire. No action taken against the criminals threatening violence," the 67-year-old's statement read. The Uttar Pradesh government, which had promised to clean up criminal elements in the state, had also asked for a delay in the release of the film, "because of law and order problems".
Ms Azmi has not spared the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) either, which withheld clearance to the film, citing gaps in application form.
"CBFC sends film back bcoz some paper formalities not complete!!! Only after 63 days, will the film be screened for CBFC when the Gujarat election is over and done with. Are we fools to not see through the design of fomenting unrest and polarising votes? I am very angry"," her statement read.
On Saturday, Ms Raje - whose state has witnessed the maximum protests by the politically vital Rajput community - asked that the film not be released till changes were made to ensure it did not hurt sentiments of any community. In a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, Ms Raje asked for the release of the film to be put on hold so a special panel of historians, filmmakers and members of the Rajput community can discuss the storyline.
Ms Raje's government has been accused of inaction against Karni Sena, a fringe Rajput group which has been spearheading the protests, alleging that the Deepika Padukone-starrer invents a romantic angle between the legendary 13th-century Queen and Alauddin Khilji, the Delhi Sultan obsessed with her. It had issued threats to Ms Padukone and shut entry to the Chittorgarh Fort - one of the biggest tourist attractions in Rajasthan, which is said to be the place where Queen Padmini lived and died.
In neighbouring Gujarat, the ruling BJP had asked the Election Commission to postpone the film's release till after the polls next month. The opposition Congress has said that if there is any "distortion of history" in the film, it should not be released at all.
On Saturday, in a series of tweets, Ms Azmi had asked for a boycott of the IFFI in Goa. "Smriti Irani is preparing IFFI dats possible only bcoz the Indian Film Industry brings such acclaim to it but keeps quiet about Padmavati!" one of her tweets read.
A second tweet read:
While Ms Irani has maintained her silence over the Deepika Padukone-starrer, her cabinet colleagues Uma Bharati and Thawar Chand Gehlot had expressed reservations about the film.
This is exactly like HKL Bhagat and Congress celebrating IFFI in Delhi after the murder of Safdar Hashmi in 1989.Cultural Annihilation- Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) November 18, 2017
"The director and his associate as the scriptwriter of #Padmavati are responsible for its story. They should have taken care of the sentiments and the historical facts," she tweeted this week," Ms Bharati tweeted.On Saturday, Mr Gehlot demanded that the censor board cut the "objectionable" scenes.