The actress has raised some pertinent questions after the CBFC sent back the application for certification of Padmavati.
Never one to mince words, Shabana Azmi is vocal about her distaste for the baseless Padmavati protests. She feels it’s time for the film industry to take a collective stand against the ugly controversies and protests surrounding the release of Padmavati.
The actress says, “The entire film industry should boycott the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa to protest against the threats issued to Padmavati, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone. If Smriti Irani is preparing for such an impressive turnout at IFFI this year, it is because the Indian film industry brings such acclaim to it. This is exactly like HKL Bhagat and the Congress celebrating IFFI in Delhi after the murder of Safdar Hashmi.”
Shabana wonders why so little action has been taken against the perpetrators of violence against the Padmavati team. “The CM of Rajasthan is sitting pretty. The first FIR lodged is under the Arms Act because there was open firing. Beyond that no action is taken against the criminals threatening naked violence.”
She also cannot get over the irony of the UP government asking for a delay in releasing the film. “The UP government is asking for a delay in Padmavati’s release as they foresee a law and order problem! But the first vow the CM took was to firmly clear the state of its criminal elements. Aur film ki release hone pey ghutne tek diye (and when it comes to the release of the film, you are ready to bend down)?”
Shabana also lashes out at the CBFC for delaying the certification of Padmavati. “The CBFC sends the film back because some paperwork is not complete,” she groans. According to CBFC guidelines, for a film to be certified, it has to be submitted 68 days before its release for certification. However, Shabana remains sceptical. “Only after 63 days will the film be screened for CBFC when Gujarat election is over and done with. Are we fools to not see through the design of inciting unrest and polarising votes?”
The formidable actress-activist doesn’t hide her resentment at what she sees as a victimisation of the entertainment industry for political purposes. “I am very angry. The film industry needs to take strong unified action and refuse to be sitting ducks anymore. If such threats had been made against any member of the political class, would the reaction have been the same? Are the people in the film industry not equal citizens of this country?”