New Delhi: While the Censor Board chief made his irritation with the director and producers of controversial film Padmavati public on Saturday, it is learnt that Union information and broadcasting ministry is also unhappy with the makers of the film over what they see as attempts to undermine the authority of the Central Board of Film Certification by securing “extra constitutional” approval for the movie by organising a special screening of the film for senior journalists and opinion makers.
Producers of Padmavati had organised a special screening of the movie in Mumbai to which several top journalists and opinion makers were invited. After watching the film, many tweeted favourably about it, which has seemingly drawn the ire of the ministry.
According to sources, the I&B ministry has pointed out that every filmmaker needs to follow set norms and procedures before a movie is cleared for release in theatres and such attempts by filmmakers and producers are unwarranted.
Given that the CBFC is the only body that can legally certify movies for release in the country, the private show for a select group of journalists and opinion makers is being seen as an attempt by the producers to undermine the authority and legality of the CBFC.
CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi slammed the makers of Padmavati for the private screening. “ Disappointing that Padmavati is being screened for media and getting reviewed on national channels without CBFC having seen or certified the Film. This compromises the role of systems and balances that are part of a functioning industry. It’s myopic to treat the certification process haphazardly to suit convenience... On one hand, holding the CBFC responsible and pressurising to accelerate the process and on the other hand, attempt to subvert the very process, sets an opportunistic precedent,” he said.
On Friday, the CBFC had sent Mr Bhansali’s film back to the makers citing that the application for certification was “incomplete”.
“The makers know and admit that the paperwork is not complete — the very disclaimer whether the film is work of fiction or a historical was left blank and not stated. On simply and legitimately being asked to provide important documents, (they are) accusing the CBFC of looking the other way and delay,” Mr Joshi said.
After the special screening, Rajat Sharma, editor-in-chief and chairman of India TV, tweeted about the film and broadcast a special programme on the issue. Others who attended the special screening include Arnab Goswami editor-in-chief Republic TV, veteran journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik and Zakka Jacob, deputy executive editor CNN News 18.
“Not a single scene, dialogue or sequence in the film Padmavati that could hurt Rajasthani or Rajput pride,” Rajat Sharma tweeted after watching the movie.
“After watching #Padmavati, I must say there is nothing objectionable. No dream sequence, no romance between Alauddin Khilji and Rani Padmini. The movie is a tribute to Rajput bravery and valour,” Jacob tweeted.
Though Alauddin Khalji’s siege of Chittor in 1303 is a historical fact, most modern historians reject the authenticity of Rani Padmini and the best-known story about the siege. The earliest source to mention Rani Padmavati is an epic poem, Padmavat, written by Sufi poet Makil Muhammad Jayasi in Awadhi in 1540.
Karni Sena, a fringe political group, has been protesting against the film since its shooting began. They allege that the film shows a romantic relationship between Padmavati and Khilji. More protests erupted after the film’s song Ghoomar released, alleging that “it is an artistic and historic fraud to portray an incorrectly attired courtesan-like painted doll in the song as the very ‘queen’ the film purports to pay obeisance to.”