Congress Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh T S Singhdeo has written a letter to Chief Minister Raman Singh seeking a special screening of the film Padmavati before it is allowed to be released in the state. In his letter, Singhdeo, who hails from the royal family of Surguja in north Chhattisgarh, said the sentiments of people seem to have been hurt, and that the right to “freedom of expression is enjoined by a sense of responsibility as well”.
The Congress leader wrote that the film Padmavati is based on history and culture, and some portions have allegedly hurt the sentiments of some sections of society. “It has come to my attention that the state governments of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have also put a stop to the screening of the film based on hurt sentiment. I have not seen the film, and therefore, keeping in mind the sentiments of the Kshatriya Samaj and other sections of society, this film should be broadcast only after it is screened,” he wrote.
He said the CM should watch the film and take a decision. Singhdeo also said that in the future, any film or publication should be given permission after keeping in mind the emotions of the Kshatriya Samaj and every other section of society. Asked by The Indian Express why a state government should vet films, Singhdeo said, “This film now has special circumstances around it. Even as there are protests, the CBFC has returned it saying some aspects of technical requirements are not complete. I have not seen the film, and therefore I have said that any decision should be taken only after it is watched. The right to freedom of expression is enjoined by a sense of responsibility.”
Asked why the government should bow to pressure from groups that have threatened the film director and actor, Singhdeo said, “Just as the freedom of expression would enjoin responsibility, so would the right to protest entail restraint. Threat to life and openly declaring bounties on persons’ lives are not acceptable…”