Padmavati, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is due for release in December.
New Delhi: Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan, the epicentre of protests against the Deepika Padukone-starrer movie Padmavati, on Saturday broke her silence on the movie. In a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, Ms Raje asked that the Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film be put on hold and a special panel of historians, filmmakers and community' members offended by the movie can discuss the film and its storyline. Members of the Rajput Karni Sena and other fringe groups, which has been at the forefront of the protests, had also threatened to harm Ms Padukone.
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Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, whose government has been accused of going soft on protesters despite instances of vandalism, has told the Union Minister that the film should not be released till necessary changes are made to ensure that it does not hurt sentiments of any community.
Ms Raje is the second Chief Minister after Uttar Pradesh's Yogi Adityanath to ask the centre to push back release of the movie. Both had cited disruption of law and order as one of the grounds for delaying release of the film.
Film producers have the right to make movies according to their understanding but fundamental rights too can be curbed on grounds of law and order, morality and hurting public sentiment, Ms Raje said.
Actor and social activist Shabana Azmi had spoken out against the threats, ostensibly by fringe groups that she said appeared to have the patronage of the ruling party. She asked the film industry to unite and boycott the Goa film festival in retaliation. Ms Azmi had also raised questions about the Censor Board returning the film because of gaps in the application form.
In his defence, Censor Board chief Prasoon Joshi said film makers too had conceded that their paper work wasn't complete. They hadn't even specified if Padmavati is work of fiction or based a historical fact.
Leaders of the Karni Sena have escalated the protests in recent days. Yesterday, they had forced shut the entrance of Chittorgarh Fort. Today, that protest spread to Kumbhalgarh Fort in Rajsamand district.
The protesters say Padmavati wrongly implies a romantic relationship between the queen and Emperor Alauddin Khilji, the all-powerful Delhi Sultan. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has repeatedly denied the allegation and released a video clarifying that his film does not distort history.
Union Minister Uma Bharti had also asked actors to steer clear of the controversy. "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.
On Saturday, Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot too waded into the controversy, demanding that the censor board cut the "objectionable" scenes. History is distorted to enact filmy scenes which should be taken seriously by the censor board," he said.
In neighbouring Gujarat that goes to polls next month, the ruling BJP has asked election commission to defer the release till after the state elections. The opposition Congress has said if there is actually "distortion of history" in the movie then it should not be released at all.