Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat (earlier titled Padmavati) may as well be called the most controversial project in the history of Hindi film industry. It has been a topic of contention ever since the film’s shoot had started. From the lead actor Deepika Padukone receiving death threats to rewards being announced on beheading director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the protests around the film by various political and religious organisations had turned violent in no time.
The film had landed into a massive controversy after Karni Sena, a rightwing group in Rajasthan, and other groups from the Rajput community started protests against the portrayal of queen Padmini. The groups had objected to the depiction of their legendary queen and alleged a distortion of history. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje even shot a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani asking her that the movie should not be released in the state without making necessary changes. Following suit, the leaders of other states including Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh had also announced a ban on the film’s release.
But after a long tussle, looks like audiences all over the country may get to watch this Bhansali masterpiece on January 25. The Central Board of Film Certification had already made up its mind about clearing the film with no more than five modifications. The film had been effectively renamed ‘Padmaavat.’ And on Tuesday, the makers of the film filed a petition before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and the Supreme Court as a result, stayed the ban by the states. The apex court stated that states must ensure law and order is maintained and they cannot ban the film citing it as a problem.
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 ury 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 minor modifications, a new title and a U/A certificate: 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 five cuts and a change in the film’s title, from ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmaavat’. The makers have also been asked to add a disclaimer stating that the film does not glorify the banned practice of Sati.
CBFC’s 300 cuts vs five modifications: Reports suggesting that the Censor Board had imposed a staggering number of 300 cuts on Padmaavat were doing the rounds on the internet. Setting the record straight, CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi told IANS that no cuts were suggested, only five modifications. He also added that they have asked the makers to change the disclaimer “clearly to one that does not claim historical accuracy”.
Mewar royal calls CBFC changes ‘cosmetic’: Mewar royal family member Vishvaraj Singh said that the changes suggested by CBFC like the one changing its title are all cosmetic and that it will not discredit the film’s claims to referring real places and real people. In a letter to Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Chairman Prasoon Joshi, Singh also expressed his displeasure over the non-inclusion Maharana Mahendra Singhji Mewar or himself in the three-member panel that reviewed the film.
Padmaavat gets a new release date on January 25: Almost ten days after the Central Board for Film Certification cleared it with a U/A certificate, Padmaavat had a new release date. The makers officially confirmed that the film will hit the screens on January 25. However, they had refrained from commenting on the same. Produced by Viacom 18, Padmavat will now clash at the box-office with Akshay Kumar-starrer PadMan.
Get ready to witness the epic tale #Padmaavat on 25th January 2018, in theatres near you. Now also in 3D, Imax 3D, Tamil & Telugu. @RanveerOfficial @deepikapadukone @shahidkapoor @aditiraohydari @Viacom18Movies @Bhansali_Prod @TSeries pic.twitter.com/YjXbgyqaja
— Padmaavat (@filmpadmaavat) January 14, 2018
Padmaavat makers issue a disclaimer: While Karni Sena chief still demanded an all-India ban on the film, the makers issued an official disclaimer addressing the issues raised by the group against the film. From clarifying that Padmaavat is a pure work of fiction to putting across the point that Padmaavat is a celebration of the famed valour and courage of the Rajputs and there is no dream sequence between Rani Padmini and Alauddin Khilji, the makers were trying their best to ensure that the film’s new release date doesn’t suffer the same fate as the one before.
Big release For #Padmaavat on January 25. #SanjayLeelaBhansali & @Viacom18Movies issues a statement putting all rumours to end. Releases in 3D, IMAX3D, & will have Tamil & Telugu versions @deepikapadukone @shahidkapoor @RanveerOfficial pic.twitter.com/3m7ZETuGyy
— Sreedhar Pillai (@sri50) January 15, 2018
Despite CBFC clearance, Rajasthan, MP and Gujarat ban Padmaavat’s screening: Following the objections raised by Karni Sena against the portrayal of Queen Padmini and the Rajputs in the film, Home Minister Gulab Chand Katariya had said that the film will not be allowed to release in the state. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had also said that the government won’t allow the “defamation of Rani Padmini’s honour” by releasing Padmaavat in Rajasthan.
In Gujarat, an official notification was issued by the government banning the film’s screening in the state. “People across the country are against the movie, as they feel that history has been distorted. With this notification, the movie will be considered as a non-certified one and will not be screened in the state,” said Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja in a statement. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who had hailed queen Padmini as ‘rashtramata Padmavati’, hinted that the ban placed on the movie in November would continue.
Padmaavat’s release remains dicey in UP and Himachal Pradesh: In the last few days, reports claimed that the Himachal Pradesh government had also followed suit and banned Padmaavat in the state. But in an interview, CM Jai Ram Thakur denied the claims and said, “I had said earlier that I respect art. As far as Padmaavat is concerned, Himachal government doesn’t intend to ban it in the state. If there’s nothing controversial in it, we have no objection in releasing it here. I want the film to be screened in theatres.”
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath was, however, cryptic in his reply to mediapersons about the release of Padmaavat in the state. “I am not a future teller,” was his cryptic reply when asked if the movie would be screened in Uttar Pradesh, reported PTI.
Goa and Punjab CMs clear film’s screening: In Goa, the police had earlier expressed apprehension about the film’s screening in the state during the peak tourist season. Police had written a letter to the state government asking to ban the film. But Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had confirmed that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat would be released in the state. Similarly with Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Saturday that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film ‘Padmavati’, which is mired in a major controversy, would not be barred from screening in his state. Anything can be shown in Punjab as long as it does not hurt religious sentiments, he said adding that the Punjab government favoured a level playing field for all organisations.
Haryana Cabinet bans Padmaavat: A decision to ban the Bhansali movie was taken by the state Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. During the Cabinet meeting, Haryana’s Health Minister Anil Vij said screening of the movie may cause law and order problems across the state and thus it should be banned. The Cabinet supported his proposal and the CM too agreed.
Padmaavat makers challenge ban in Supreme Court: Following the announcement of the bans, Padmaavat’s producers moved the top court and submitted that the movie has undergone changes, including in its title, as suggested by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud agreed to take the matter of Padmaavat’s release up after the counsel for Viacom 18 mentioned it for urgent hearing.
SC stays ban, Padmaavat to release across India: The Supreme Court stayed the ban on Padmaavat in four states including Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The apex court stated that the states must ensure that law and order is maintained and they cannot ban the film citing this as a problem.