India’s censors on Saturday cleared controversial Bollywood film Padmavati, backed by Viacom Inc, that looks into the relationship of a Hindu queen and a Muslim ruler, after suggesting some modifications.
The movie, which was slated to be released on December 1, was indefinitely postponed by a studio run by a partnership of Viacom and Network 18 owned by Reliance Industries. That followed a row over its historical content in Rajasthan and Maharashtra states.
Members of hardline Hindu fringe groups as well as the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had criticised the film Padmavati, accusing its director of distorting history by showing Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji as the “lover” of Queen Padmavati, belonging to the Rajput Hindu warrior clan.
“This was an unprecedented and tough situation,” Prasoon Joshi, chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), said in an email. “Am glad that following a balanced approach we resolved the task at hand in a pragmatic and positive manner.” The board asked that the name of the film be changed to Padmavat, to reflect that the source material was an epic poem of the same name and not from actual historical events, Joshi said.
He added that the producers and director had been asked to run a disclaimer saying the movie does not “claim historical accuracy”, and that they were “completely in agreement” with the suggestions.
“There are no cuts suggested in this film by CBFC, only five modifications,” Joshi also said.
The CBFC demanded modifications to the song Ghoomar to befit the character of Padmavati, and changes in the “incorrect/misleading reference to historical places”.
The censor board also wants the makers to add a disclaimer which clarifies that the “film in no manner subscribes to the practice of Sati or seeks to glorify it”.
Once the required modifications are carried out and final material submitted, the certificate will be issued, Joshi said.
Viacom18 Motion Pictures, the studio behind the movie, did not respond to a request for comment. It earlier said the film captured “Rajput valour, dignity and tradition in all its glory”.
The film stars popular actress Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapur in lead roles. Padukone was the target of Rajput groups who were against its release. A BJP politician was ordered to apologise publicly by his party after he offered a reward for anyone who beheaded Padukone for her portrayal of Queen Padmavati.
Despite the suggested modifications by a special committee, a group that says it represents Rajputs vowed on Saturday to keep protesting against the movie.
“We had given a whole list of objections regarding the movie,” Ajit Singh, president of Rajput Karni Sena, said.
“The decision has been taken in haste and only a few cuts to the movie will not do justice to the history and legend of the person. We will continue our protests.”
Some Bollywood actors such as director Anubhav Sinha, actress Renuka Shahane and filmmaker Apurva Asrani slammed the CBFC’s decision on Twitter.
“So Bhansali can now actually throw a party. Just that whisky will be called ‘whiska’, vodka will be called ‘vodki’ and so on,” Sinha tweeted.
Shahane wrote: “The ‘I’ of the storm has passed. CBFC changes the name of Padmavati to Padmavat and passes the film with a U/A certificate. Thereby, nobody will have any issue and nobody’s sentiments will be hurt. Name changing is game changing I must say!”
Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia was “disgusted” by the decision.
“Disgusted by the open and blatant use of political muscle to screw filmmakers during elections. Now that Gujarat and Himachal are won, Padmavati has got its U/A, it will be praised. Rajputs’ heroism will be talked about by the same people who slammed it. Thank God we have not made a film called Gandhi! Can you imagine what title CBFC would suggest,” he tweeted.
Asrani said: “If Pad Man picks up the ‘I’ that Padmavat drops, they’ll have to call it Padmani. From the frying pan into the pyre.”
Actor Rahul Dev tweeted: “Padmavati turns Padmavat, smart move, yet wonder why is the ‘I’ so large in our country? CBFC gives U/A certificate for the film.”
Writer and film critic Raja Sen joked about the title change on Twitter:
“Perhaps this is all part of a grand plan to make the prime minister Mod. #Padmavat #i” he posted.