New Delhi: After months of uncertainty over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial film Padmavati, the Cen-tral Board of Film Certification (CBFC) on Saturday cleared the movie with a UA certification, provided the film’s title is changed to Padmavat and suggested modifications, cuts are made.
Sources said that the modifications and change in title are meant to clarify that the film is not a historical account but is based on a creative source.
Mr Bhansali’s film, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Sha-hid Kapoor, is inspired by 16th century Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic, Padmavat.
The decision to clear the film came after a special panel, which included Arvind Singh from erstwhile Udaipur royal family, and historians Dr Chandramani Singh and professor K.K. Singh of Jaipur University, reviewed the film.
It is learnt that the examining committee met on December 28 and decided to give the film a UA certification along with some modifications and change of the film’s title.
Apart from several cuts, the Censor Board has also suggested a disclaimer specifically stating that the film does not glorify the practice of Sati.
Some suggested changes are in the song Ghoomar, reportedly to befit the character portrayed, sources stated.
As per procedure, the Censor Board will issue the UA certificate once the modifications are carried out and the final material is submitted to the CBFC. No release date has yet been announced by the filmmaker.
Sources stated that the meeting on Thursday took place in the presence of CBFC chairman Prasoon Joshi and was also attended by regular examining committee members, along with other Censor Board officials.
This newspaper was the first to report on December 7 that considering the complexities and concerns around the film, the Narendra Modi government had decided to seek the help of eminent historians to check the veracity of facts represented in the film.
Bhansali Productions, in a written communication to CBFC, had also requested that a panel of historians/academicians and members of the Rajput community view the film.
It is understood that members of the panel had insights and some reservations regarding the claimed historical events and socio-cultural aspects, all of which were discussed at length.
According to the board, the suggested modifications were shared with the producers, Viacom 18 and Mr Bhansali, who attended the feedback session post the screening and are in agreement with the changes.
Rajput fronts like Shri Rajput Karni Sena and Rajput Sabha, who were opposed to the release of the film, are likely to plan their strategy on the issue soon.
Padmavati got mired in controversy after various Rajput groups alleged that it distorts history, a claim repeatedly denied by the director.
Bhansali, who appeared before a parliamentary panel, had said that his lavishly mounted `150 crore period drama is based on the 1540 epic poem, Padmavat.
Though historians are divided on whether queen Padmini actually existed, protests against the film spread across various states and the film’s December 1 release was deferred as it didn’t have censor clearance.
The protesters say the 13th-century queen, Padmini, has been disrespected by Mr Bhansali suggesting in his film that she was romantically involved with Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji. Mr Bhansali has denied any allusion to a love story, but several BJP-ruled states, including Rajasthan, banned the movie, declaring they will not permit it to screen even if it is cleared by the Censor Board.
Padmini, according to legend, was a Rajput warrior queen from Chittor in Rajasthan who set herself on fire to save her honour after Khilji defeated her husband in battle.
Mr Bhansali was also grilled by MPs of a parliamentary panel who had expressed their displeasure over “selective” media screening of his film and alleged that it was aimed at undermining and influencing the CBFC.
Few weeks ago the Supreme Court refused to ban the film, saying it cannot assume the role of a certification body.
Founder-patron of Rajput Karni Sena Lokendra Singh Kalvi has said that it is “too early” to comment on the Censor Board’s decision. “A lot of clarifications are yet to come on the issues and it will be too early to comment on it. My stand is very clear, which is known to everyone,” he told news agencies.
“It was proposed that film will be reviewed by a panel of nine intellectuals, but the film was reviewed by only three persons. The recommendations of the panel are not in public domain so it will be too early to comment,” he added.
Rajput Sabha president Giriraj Singh Lotawara said, “The panel that was formed to watch the movie was of the view that historical facts have been distorted. It shows that CBFC has gone out of its way to help the filmmaker. We will protest if the film is released, and the government will face the music.”
Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi, president of Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena, a splinter group, warned of violent agitation if the movie was released. “We will vandalise the cinema halls if the movie is released. We want a complete ban,” he said.