As protests peaked over the movie and several states pushed for a ban on it, the director had appeared before the panel to explain his point of view. After a two-and-a-half-hour question-answer session, the panel asked him to submit a written response within a fortnight, sources said.
The panel had a number of questions about the Rs 190-crore movie. Sources said Mr Bhansali was asked whether Jauhar, ritual self-immolation practised in Rajasthan, could be shown on film, why he gave so little time to the Central Board of Film Certification for clearing the movie and why it was screened before journalists before a clearance from the regulatory body.
He was also asked whether he had agreed to the demands of the Karni Sena, the Rajput group spearheading the protests, to screen the move before them ahead of its release. The group has threatened actor Deepika Padukone, who plays queen Padmini in the film, and Mr Bhansali, with physical harm.
"I have not distorted history. I have based the movie on a poem... the misunderstanding was due to rumours," Mr Bhansali told the panel, sources said. Rajput groups have claimed that the movie had besmirched the 13th Century queen Padmini, by indicating a romance between her and Alauddin Khilji, the Delhi Sultan obsessed with her beauty.
Mr Bhansali, who repeatedly rejected such allegations, even held a screening before some journalists to prove his claims - a move that CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi said was disappointing. Mr Joshi, who appeared before the panel today along with Mr Bhansali, said he would form a committee of experts to take a call on the certification of Padmavati. Earlier today, Mr Joshi had also presented himself before the Parliamentary panel on petitions. The censor board has not given clearance to the film, saying its paperwork was incomplete.
The film's release, scheduled for tomorrow, was deferred by its producers amid the months-long controversy. But chief ministers of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have declared that they won't allow the screening of the movie in their states even if it gets clearance from the censor board. On Tuesday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar followed suit.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had turned down yet another appeal to ban the film and chided the Chief Ministers and others who have spoken out against the film, saying, "those holding public offices should not comment on such issues".