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  Entertainment   Bollywood  21 Nov 2017  Bullies have the last word

Bullies have the last word

Published : Nov 21, 2017, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Nov 21, 2017, 12:00 am IST

Viacom’s sudden announcement on Sunday postponing the December 1 release, has taken the entire Padmavati team aback..

Deepika Padukone in a still from 'Padmavati'
 Deepika Padukone in a still from 'Padmavati'

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s battle against the bully seems to have ended with the producers going over his head and deciding to bow down to the threats and delay the release date of Padmavati.

Deferring the release date of Padmavati was not a decision taken by filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali. It was the producers, who decided to inform Bhansali that they had decided to postpone the release date “for a more suitable Friday in the next couple of months.”


SLB said, ‘Ok,’ and disconnected the phone. For him, the battle to get into the theatres on schedule, and thereby not succumb to fringe bullying, had just ended.

“No explanation was given, none demanded by Bhansali. The fight has gone out of his spirit. He has poured his blood, sweat and tears into Padmavati. He is now done. Now, he has left the matter in the hands of his very capable producers Viacom 18 Motion Pictures,” says an informed source.

Viacom’s sudden announcement on Sunday postponing the December 1 release, has taken the entire Padmavati team aback. What prompted Viacom to take this hasty decision?

Ranveer SinghRanveer Singh


Apparently, the complete failure of attempts to pacify the protesters, even after SLB recorded a video vowing there was nothing even remotely slanderous in his film, had begun to worry Viacom.

Says a source, “The concern was not just restricted to the Indian bosses at Viacom. It went all the way to the headquarters in the US.”

Apparently the command to defer release came from the headquarters, after all attempts to assuage suspicion about the Padmavati content failed.

Says the source, “The final straw was the ‘special’ screening of Padmavati for two television journalists (Arnab Goswami and Rajat Shama).

Naseeruddin ShahNaseeruddin Shah


On Friday Shobha Sant, the CEO of Bhansali Production flew to Delhi to screen Padmavati for Arnab and Rajat. What was meant to be a move to influence public opinion in favour of the film turned out to be a futile PR exercise. The protesters wouldn’t buy Arnab’s braggadocio. Worst of all,  the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson Prasoon Joshi turned his face away from the glare of the controversy, berating the  team for jumping the gun and showing the film to key media persons before the CBFC.”

Joshi probably expected Bhansali to approach him directly. This didn’t happen.

In their defence, a source close to the producers says the CBFC is not to blame for the delay. “Prasoon is clearly under pressure. It was very clear to Viacom 18 that they would not be allowed to release the film before the Gujarat elections. Rather than wait for one more week and let the publicity costs escalate, Viacom ordered by the high command, decided to pull the plug on the release without further delay.”


Pahlaj NihlaniPahlaj Nihlani

The fresh release date won’t happen in a hurry.

“We are in no hurry to announce the new date. We will do so only after gauging the situation,” says a Viacom source.

Filmmakers explode in protest
The film fraternity is united in its outrage. Filmmakers, actors and producers alike believe that this is an affront to the very democratic rights that India boasts of, and an utter disregard to the freedom of expression.

Pahlaj Nihlani:
A Tamil film on the subject of Rani Padmini was made in the 1970s. It seems that Indian democracy has deteriorated since then. The only external body that has any say in the release of a film is the CBFC. If the CBFC deems the film suitable to be screened, then nothing should be able to stop them.


Raja Krishna MenonRaja Krishna Menon

Raja Krishna Menon:
It’s ridiculous that the conversation is about anything other than freedom of expression. We seem to have become a nation that is so fragile that anything said will in all probability deeply offend someone or the other. It is a failure of the state when people believe they can hold to ransom anything they deem they dislike and even threaten to harm artists and get away with it. I am just glad the guy who offered Rs 5 crore to behead Deepika and SLB has been arrested. That’s the first positive in this case.”    


 I feel very disturbed as an artist that our country has come to this. A culture of censorship on art when the country has much more pressing issues to address. All those people who have problems with the film need not see the film. But threats of death going unpunished. A mute government is not what a civilized democracy stands for.


Tanuja ChandraTanuja Chandra

Tanuja Chandra:
In a country like India, bursting at the seams with real, huge issues, when a film with possibly a fictional character becomes a cause to fight for, the government must be clinical, swift, absolute, in protecting it and in dismissing the ridiculous ambitions of anyone threatening to break the law. Any deliberation or delay in doing this is wrong and honestly, kind of tragic.

Faraz Arif AnsariFaraz Arif Ansari

Faraz Arif Ansari:
I don’t think that the Padmavati issue is even a film industry problem anymore — it’s a socio-political issue, which speaks volumes for the lack of democratic rights of the people. I think Padmavati can be thought of as a kind of litmus test and with its release, we’ll know whether or not we’re even living in a democracy anymore.


Tags: padmavati, sanjay leela bhansali, cbfc, viacom