CENTRAL BOARD of Film Certification chairman Prasoon Joshi said on Saturday that the CBFC sent back the movie Padmavati to the filmmakers without certification because it did not contain a disclaimer specifying whether it was a work of fiction or a historical.
Joshi also hit out at the fimmakers for holding a preview screening without obtaining a CBFC certification. “In this specific case, the film’s application only came up this week for review. The makers know and admit that the paperwork is not complete. The very disclaimer, whether the film is a work of fiction or a historical, was left blank and not stated. On simply and legitimately being asked to provide important documents, they have targeted the CBFC for the delay. This is truly surprising,” said Joshi.
The film, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali with Deepika Padukone in the title role, is scheduled to release on December 1. The movie has faced widespread protests by the Karni Sena in Rajasthan over “distortion of historical facts”, and the UP government has asked the I&B Ministry to defer its release to prevent an “adverse effect” on the law and order situation in the state.
Responding to reports of a preview screening, Joshi said, “It’s disappointing that the film Padmavati is being screened for the media and getting reviewed on national channels without the CBFC having seen or certified the film. This compromises the role of systems and balances that are part of a functioning industry.”
Joshi said it was “myopic” to treat the official certification process “haphazardly to suit one’s convenience”. “On one hand, holding the CBFC responsible and pressurising to accelerate the process and, on the other hand, attempting to subvert the very process, sets an opportunistic precedent… The CBFC is a responsible body and has the best interests of the industry and society. Let’s not let convenient and casual methods be brought into the practice. We must all have a responsible, mutually respectful and balanced approach,” he said.
Vivek Agnihotri, film director and CBFC member, said, “We (the CBFC) haven’t denied anything. Every film has to go through due process for certification. The producers had sent us the script of the film. But each film has to have a disclaimer in the beginning, which cites whether the film is based on true events, is a work of fiction or is inspired. The script did not have that. They need to complete the paperwork, that’s all.”
Describing the certification process, Agnihotri said, “It’s a computer-based algorithm, which is similar to that of a passport form or Aadhaar card… if your paperwork is incomplete, they reject your application. They have to send a complete thing, and once everything is in place, we shall view it like any other film.”
Agnihotri said that “people need to stop giving into the demands of those who hold the film fraternity to ransom”. “The industry is equally to be blamed. Every time, somebody armtwists you, we succumb to their demands. At the time of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, I had said that Karan Johar should not have apologised. As a film fraternity, we should have taken a stand and not released any film till this phenomenon stops,” he said.
In series of posts on social media, actor Shabana Azmi questioned the CBFC for returning the Padmavati application. She also asked members of the industry to protest against it and boycott the IFFI in Goa that opens on November 20.
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