NEARLY ten days after the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) cleared it with a U/A certificate, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial epic Padmavati — now retitled Padmavat — has a new release date. The makers officially confirmed that the film will hit the screens on January 25. However, they have refrained from commenting on the same. The team also refused to comment on the changes recommended by the CBFC, which included a change in the title as well as picturisation of the song Ghoomar.
Produced by Viacom 18, Padmavat will now clash at the box-office with Akshay Kumar-starrer Padman. The film, directed by R Balki, is based on the real-life story of a social activist from Tamil Nadu, known for creating and making available affordable sanitary napkins, thereby revolutionising menstrual hygiene in parts of rural India. Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyyari, an ensemble with Manoj Bajpayee in a key role, is likely to postpone its release from January 25, in order to make way for the two big releases.
The exhibitors view the clash between Padman and Padmavat as a positive sign. “It’s a long weekend and good films help bring audience to the theatres. It only means more business for us,” says Nitin Datar, head of Cinema Owners and Exhibitors
Association of India. “Distributors of both the films will want a commanding presence at the theatres. Let us see how we work that out,” he adds.
Padmavat has been at the centre of controversies since April, when members of a fringe group, Karni Sena, had vandalised the set in Jaipur. When the first trailer released in October, it triggered protests and violence across Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The film’s release was eventually postponed from December 1, after the CBFC refused certification to the film in November on
technical grounds. While the exhibitors are keen to screen the film, a period drama starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, most of them are looking for reassurance from the makers that the controversy has been put to rest for good. Manoj Desai, owner of Maratha Mandir in Mumbai Central and G7 Multiplex in Bandra, says, Bhansali’s silence on the matter makes the exhibitors a tad uncomfortable. “They need to come on record and say that the issues with the CBFC as well as the protesting groups have been resolved or that they have the necessary permissions to release the film,” asserts Desai.
Datar adds that once the formal communication about the film’s release date reaches them, they will wait to see if there is any trouble brewing over it. “If the opposition to its release is not as fierce as before, we will go ahead with scheduling the screenings,” he said, adding that the film may not see a release in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where it countered most trouble.