Shyam, who helmed a committee to recommend reforms in the workings of the CBFC has strong words of censure for the board.
As the Padmavati crisis escalates to national level, more reasonable voices from within the and outside the entertainment industry can be heard questioning the very raison d’etre of the national uproar.
Shyam Benegal, who has faced furious backlash in his time for his cinema on socio-cultural equality, is baffled by the extent of the Padmavati uproar. “I haven’t seen the film, have you? Yet there are hordes of people objecting to its content. Does that make any sense? I can’t understand how the protest has spread across the nation, when hardly anyone has seen the film. I am sorry, the protests make no sense, unless we judge them against the political current political climate in the country,” he says.
Shyam, whose films like Ankur, Nishant, and Manthan focused on the evils of the caste system, sees a pattern of vote-bank politics in the protests against Padmavati. “This is being done to consolidate the Rajput vote. Now, you must understand that the Rajput community is not one homogenised community across the country. The Rajputs of Rajasthan possess a different mindset and cultural inclination as compared with the Rajputs in other parts of India. And even those Rajputs in different regions outside Rajasthan are diverse in their outlook. By raking up the Padmavati controversy, the Karni Sena hopes unite them over an utterly irrelevant crisis. Sadly their ploy seems to be working. If I am from a particular caste and you tell me my cultural heritage is threatened, I will naturally react against the threat,” he sighs.
Shyam, who helmed a committee to recommend reforms in the workings of the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) has strong words of censure for the board. “I must say the CBFC is behaving very strangely in the matter of Padmavati. If the film did not carry a disclaimer it could easily be corrected. Why send the film back? Again it seems very suspicious.”
The filmmaker urges protesters to get reasonable. “Wait for Padmavati to release and then pass your verdict. What is the point in commenting over a film whose content has not been exposed to the public?”