Padmavati, now presumably Padmavat, has been a topic of discussion ever since the film’s shoot started. From lead actor Deepika Padukone receiving death threats to rewards being announced on beheading director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the film received a number of threats from political and religious organisations as they found the film’s content objectionable.
But now, after a long battle, the audience may get to watch the artwork of Bhansali soon. Central Board of Film Certification has made up its mind about clearing the film with a few modifications, one of which includes a change in the film’s title. The CBFC has suggested renaming the magnum opus, ‘Padmavat’.
The film starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in the lead roles is said to be inspired by an epic poem, “Padmavat” by the 16th century Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, but the director of the movie Bhansali has a different tale to tell. He says that he got inspiration for the movie and for Deepika’s role from 1966 film Amrapali.
Here’s a timeline of the controversies that have surrounded the film Padmavati so far:
Accident on the sets: A painter who was working on the larger than life sets of the movie fell from the height of five feet in December 2016. Sanjay Leela Bhansali tried to compensate for the accident and Deepika too expressed grief on the demise of the man.
shocked and saddened by the news…may his soul rest in peace and my most sincere condolences to his family…🙏
— Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone) December 25, 2016
Vandalism on sets in Jaipur: In January 2017, the sets of the movie at Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur were destroyed by the members of Karni Sena who staged an angry protest against the director of the movie Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Protesters entered in large numbers and started getting violent with Bhansali. Even as his team tried to shield him and take him to safety, the mob unleashed its fury on the defenceless director and slapped and assaulted him. Their next target was the costly film equipment which was smashed on the ground. The incident halted the shooting of the movie for days.
Watch | Sanjay Leela Bhansali Slapped And Assaulted By Protesters On Padmavati Sets In Jaipur
Vandalism on sets in Kolhapur: In March 2017, once again the sets of Padmavati were vandalised in Kolhapur’s Masai plateau during the night and were set on fire hurting the animals which were present at the time of the incident. About 20 to 30 people reached the sets of the film armed with petrol bombs, stones and lathis. Before putting the set of the movie on fire, they torched the fodder kept for animals and even destroyed the costumes kept there. The attacks were being staged as certain fringe Rajput groups claimed that the film has a dream sequence where Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji will be seen in an intimate position. The claims were dismissed by the team of the movie.
Here are the pictures from Padmavati’s Kolhapur sets:
The first poster: In September 2017 Deepika Padukone’s first look poster was released. Rajput Karni Sena, an organisation of the Rajput community, burnt posters of the movie in Jaipur and shouted slogans against Bhansali. Narain Singh Divrala, district president Jaipur of the Rajput Karni Sena, told IANS, “We want him to show the film to the core committee of Shri Rajput Karni Sena and various organizations, including historians, before releasing it. Till then we will not allow the film to be released. If the Karni Sena core committee and historians don’t have any problems only then will we allow screening of the movie.”
Threatening to burn cinema halls: According to the reports, the Jai Rajputana Sangh said that they won’t tolerate any distortion of facts and if there will be any romantic relationship between Rani Padmavati and Allaudin Khilji, they will burn the cinema halls. However, Smriti Irani assured Bhansali that the movie will release without any trouble.
Goons destroy rangoli: In October 2017, the movie got embroiled in another controversy when goons destroyed an artist’s 48 hours of hard work in less than a minute. It was Surat artist Karan K’s rangoli which featured Deepika Padukone in her character in Padmavati. It was after Deepika drew the attention of Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani on the incident that Surat police arrested five people for allegedly vandalising the rangoli.
— KK Solanki (@kartiksolanki09) October 15, 2017
absolutely heart breaking to see the recent attack on artist Karan and his artwork!disgusting and appalling to say the least! pic.twitter.com/Ot2Aki0MiA
— Deepika Padukone (@deepikapadukone) October 18, 2017
BJP writes for temporary hold of release: After the protest by Rajput Karni Sena to watch the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directoial before its actual release, BJP decided to write to the Election Commission, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the Central government to temporarily hold the release of the film for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Kshatriya community. “We are writing to the ECI, CBFC and the Centre seeking to stop the film’s release for a temporary period till the issue is resolved,” said BJP spokesperson IK Jadeja. He also added, “An attempt has been made to wrongly link the two characters (Padmavati and Khilji) of history.”
Roads blocked across Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh: Tens of hundreds of people took to the streets and blocked roads across Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh city on November 3 to protest against the release of the highly anticipated epic period drama. In Chittorgarh, all schools, markets and medical shops were shut down as a part of the strike, backed by the Rajput Karni Sena. The protesters alleged that the film has love scenes between Queen Padmini and Alauddin Khilji played by actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, respectively.
Pramod Rana, the national convenor of Rajput Karni Sena, told ANI, “We cannot give permission to tamper with the rich history of India. The only thing that we want is that Sanjay Leela Bhansali should show the movie to some of the foremost people of our organisation and tell them that we are not tempering any fact of the history.”
Distributors backing out: Protests Padmavati intensified in Rajasthan with several organisations stating their objection to the film questioning Rani Padmini’s portrayal, and the distributors were keen on getting away from the project. “We don’t want to get involved in this controversy; our company has decided to not get involved in this film until this controversy is sorted out,” said Raj Bansal, a film distributor from Rajasthan. “None of my colleagues – there are 3–4 (top) distributors in Rajasthan – and none of them is ready for it. There may still be time to settle the controversy but it keeps on increasing now, to Gujarat, Maharashtra…” he said.
Asking for a countrywide ban on Padmavati: Shri Rajput Sabha, the Rajput body, also wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi and asked for a countrywide ban on the film. They also filed an FIR against Bhansali calling him a “habitual offender”. Ujjain MP Chintamani Malviya wrote a Facebook post saying, “People like Bhansali do not understand any other language. People like him only understand the language of shoes. This country will not disrespect Rani Padmavati. We will not tolerate any distortion of our history. Mental deformity of Bhansali would not be tolerated in the name of freedom of expression.” He also added, “If the film industry crosses its boundaries, then it should not be expected that the elected representatives will be within their limits.”
Supreme Court dismisses petition against Padmavati: Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed against the release of the film. While dismissing the petition, the apex court said that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) considers all aspects before granting a certificate to any film and, therefore, the court should not intervene in Censor Board’s jurisdiction.
Rajasthan government to watch the film: Home Minister of Rajasthan government Gulab Chand Kataria constituted a panel to screen Padmavati. He said, “My committee will study which points in the movie are different from historical facts and present its report. It will watch it once and consider each point over which people are angry. Nothing should be communicated (in the movie) which infuriates people.”
Protests in Haryana: In Sirsa, Bhansali’s effigy was burnt by members of the Rajput community. Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena’s Haryana unit president Thakur Bhavani Singh told The Indian Express, “This is a concocted story and distorted facts have been presented through the movie. We have objections to the name of the movie as well. It should not have been named Padmavati.”
Haryana seeks ban: Haryana Health minister Anil Vij said that the state government wants a ban on Padmavati and they will approach the CBFC to seek the same. He said, “The character assassination of Padmavati will not be tolerated at any level.”
Mewar royals seek ban: Maharajkumar Vishvaraj Singh, from Mewar’s royal family, wrote a letter to Minister of Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani and censor board chairperson Prasoon Joshi to withhold the certification of the film. “Allowing commercial interests to override the sanctity of national pride and heritage would be a failure on the part of the government and will not behove well for times to come,” he wrote.
Comparing Khilji to acid attacker: In a letter to Smriti Irani, Haryana minister Vipul Goel wrote that “glamourising Alauddin Khilji’s character was akin to praising those who carry out acid attacks on girls.”
Protests in Gandhinagar and Surat: Over one lakh members of the Rajput community held protests in Gandhinagar and Surat Asking for a ban on the release of Padmavati. According to Mansinh Rathod, who is leading the Gujarat chapter of ‘Karni Sena’, Bhansali has “distorted the historical facts in the movie.” He added that the film must not release anywhere in the country.
Seeking ban in Karnataka: Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena warned that the film will not be allowed to release in Karnataka. Uday Singh, a member of the outfit, demanded that the CBFC must not clear the film as it hurts the sentiments of the people.
Makers open to screening the film for religious and political bodies: Ajit Andhare, Chief Operating Officer, Viacom18 Motion Pictures said that they are open to screening the film for anyone but only after it is greenlit by the CFBC.
Cinema hall vandalised in Kota: Karni Sena members vandalised a cinema hall in Kota and the entire incident was captured on video. The activists were angry at the screening of a teaser of Padmavati in the hall and as per reports, 8 people have been arrested.
— ANI (@ANI) November 14, 2017
Bhansali gets police security: Due to the increasing number of threats, Padmavati director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been now gotten police protection from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Karni Sena calls for bandh: The Shri Rajput Karni Sena has called for a nationwide bandh on December 1. Padmavati is scheduled to release on the same day. Founder of the organisation, Lokendra Singh Kalvi, demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervene in the issue.
Another threat for Bhansali: BJP MLA Ram Kadam, who also heads Film Studio Setting and Allied Majdoor Union, said that they would not let the director shoot any film in future if he does not delete “objectionable” scenes from the film. He also said that they will demand a ban, if needed.
UP’s Home Department urges CBFC: Uttar Pradesh’s Home Department has written to the secretary of the I&B Ministry, urging it to convey to the CBFC of the adverse impact of the protests on the state. The film is scheduled to release on December 1 and it coincides with the counting of votes of UP’s local body elections. The Islamic festival of Milad-un-Nabi is likely to fall on December 2. Keeping both these events in mind, UP’s Home Department suggested that the film’s release could hamper the peace of the state.
Karni Sena threatens to cut off Deepika Padukone’s nose: Mahipal Singh Makrana of Rajput Karni Sena has now threatened to cut off Deepika Padukone’s nose if the film is released.
Rajputs never raise a hand on women but if need be, we will do to Deepika what Lakshman did to Shurpanakha: Mahipal Singh Makrana of Rajput Karni Sena in a self-made video #Padmavati pic.twitter.com/82AWKGO7IU
— ANI (@ANI) November 16, 2017
Padmavati protesters block tourist entry to Chhittorgarh Fort: Protesters blocked the entry to the famed Chittorgarh fort. Member of Sarv Samaj Sangathan and president of Jauhar Samriti Sansthan, Ummed Singh said, “A dharna demanding a ban on Padmavati is continuing for the last eight days at Padan Pole. The Chhittorgarh Fort will be closed for tourists today.”
Rs 5 crore bounty on Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali: Meerut-based Thakur leader Abhishek Som has promised to give Rs 5 crore to the person who beheads Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone. “Anyone who brings the head of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone will be rewarded with Rs 5 crore. Rani Ma Padmavati had sacrificed her life with 12,000 other women in mass immolation (Jauhar), and Bhansali has raised a question on her courage by showing her in bad light in his film,” he said.
Padmavati makers confirm film’s postponement: Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial Padmavati’s release date has been deferred. The Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor starrer was earlier scheduled to release on December 1. The makers were facing protests from a number of organisations across the country. They say the deferment is a voluntary action.
— Viacom18 (@viacom18) November 19, 2017
CBFC invites Jaipur historians to view Padmavati: The Censor Board sought the opinion of two veteran historians, professor B.L. Gupta and Prof R.S. Khangarot from Jaipur on the film by inviting them to view the film. Speaking to the media, Khangarot said the entire tussle related to the movie is not between the Karni Sena and Bhansali, but between him and history and hence “once we watch the film, it will be clear if history has been tampered with or not”. Gupta said the age-old custom of jauhar (mass immolation) should not be romanticised and he was all for artistic freedom but then it should not happen at the cost of history.
CBFC clears Padmavati with a few cuts: The board held an examining committee meeting on December 28 where they decided to allow the film to release with a UA certificate. The CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi was also present at the meeting.
CBFC has asked for several cuts and a change in the film’s title, from ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmavat’. The makers have also been asked to add a disclaimer stating that the film does not glorify the banned practice of Sati.