After the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the ban on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmaavat in four states, the first signs of unrest were visible as protesters vandalised a cinema hall in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur.
Reacting to the development, Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said they might appeal against the decision after going through the SC judgment. The governments of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana had banned the Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh-starrer from releasing in their states.
Vij, who had earlier said that he would not allow the movie to be screened in the state, said the apex court gave the decision without listening to their side. “Supreme Court gave the decision without listening to our side. The SC is supreme, so will abide by the decision. We will also examine the decision and see if there is a scope of appealing against it,” Vij said.
Besides accepting the petitioner’s contention that once the Central Board of Film Certification had cleared a movie, the government could not interfere with it, the SC also asked the states to provide security to the film crew if required.
Gulab Chand Kataria, the Home Minister of Rajasthan, where much of the protests against the film was centred, said the government might look for a legal provision to challenge the judgment. “We respect the Supreme Court’s decision, will abide by it. My department will look for a legal provision, if one is possible, after reading the SC’s decision and then we will move forward,” Kataria said.
Lauding the apex court judgment, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said it was a vindication of artists’ rights and freedom of speech. Sibal also expressed hope that the order would pave way for a smooth release of the historical drama. “It’s a vindication of artists’ rights and freedom of speech. SC must be congratulated for upholding not just the freedom of speech, but artists’ rights to present story in manner he/she wishes. Hope states honour the verdict and don’t create hurdles in its implementation,” Sibal said.
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However, the decision came as a setback to Rajput leader Suraj Pal Amu, who had offered a Rs 10-crore bounty for beheading Padukone and Bhansali. Amu said on Thursday he would continue to protest against the film in a peaceful manner. “I will continue to protest in a peaceful manner. I do not mind if I am hanged for it,” Amu said. Amu had resigned last year as chief media coordinator of the BJP’s state unit, days after the party served a show cause notice to him for the bounty offer. Maintaining a hawkish tone, Amu reiterated that the movie hurt the sentiments of the Rajput community. “The SC has hurt the sentiments of crores of Hindus. The country will break if the film releases,” Amu said.
Rajput Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi, who has been spearheading the protests, mellowed down his appeal. “I will appeal to all communities to stop the screening of Padmavaat. The people should declare a curfew on cinema halls,” Kalvi said.