India's censor board suggests cuts, name change of controversial film Padmavati for release

The film has been at the centre of a big controversy after being accused of distorting history.
The film has been at the centre of a big controversy after being accused of distorting history. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI – India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has asked the makers of controversial Bollywood Hindi film Padmavati to undertake 26 cuts and a name change for the release of the movie to the public, officials said on Saturday (Dec 30).

The film directed by renowed director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been at the centre of a big controversy with a  right-wing group in India’s western state of Rajasthan  accusing distortion of history in the movie. 

Padmavati is based on the legend of Rani Padmini of Chittor and Rajput groups said the film wrongly showcases a romantic relationship between the queen and Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. 

The legend was based on the 16th century epic poem “Padmavat” by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi.

Mr Bhansali had dismissed rumours of a romantic scene between the Hindu queen and Muslim king in the movie. He  recently released a video clarifying that his film does not distort history. 

“If the makers agree with the CBFC’s recommendations, then it will get a U/A certification, which means parental guidance for children below the age of 12 years is required for their viewing,” a board official said. 

“The censor board has suggested that the name of film be changed from Padmavati to Padmavat”, Xinhua reported the official as saying. 

According to the officials, the decision was taken keeping in mind the views of the filmmakers and Indian society. 

The film was reviewed by a special panel constituted by the censor board, Xinhua said. 

The censor board said it wanted a disclaimer accompanying the movie to say that the film does not claim historical accuracy, or modify misleading references to historical places, Times of India newspaper reported.  A second disclaimer would make the point that the film does not subscribe to the practice of Sati or seek to glorify it, the paper's report said. Sati is a tradition that sanctions a wife burning herself alive on her husband's funeral pyre. 

CBFC chairman Prasoon Joshi was quoted by Times of India saying the board suggested to change the movie's name from "Padmavati" to "Padmavat" to the filmmakers describing the fictional poem Padmavat as their creative source, and not the historical figure of the Hindu queen.

Protesters from the fringe ring-wing group called Sri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) resorted to vandalism and even threatened to cut the nose of top Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone who played the role of queen Padmavati days ahead of the movie’s release on Dec 1. 

The movie release was deferred over the threats and protests. 

 

The SRKS, which has 700,000 members in 20 states, has drawn support from like-minded right-wingers, including leaders of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and groups affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the

 

ideological backbone of the BJP.

Three BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan – keen on retaining support from Rajputs – have banned the movie even before its release. 

Chief minister of Punjab state Amarinder Singh, who is from the opposition Congress party, has also criticised it.

BJP functionary Suraj Pal Amu had offered a bounty of 100 million rupees (S$2.08 million) for the heads of Ms Padukone and Mr Bhansali. 

But the BJP has distanced itself from this, saying it did not condone violence.