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‘Padmavati’ Based on a Poem, Not on History: Bhansali to Panel 

The director has been given time till 14 December to give a written reply to the panel about the movie.

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‘Padmavati’ director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
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Padmavati director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, on Thursday, 30 November, faced a barrage of questions from a parliamentary panel which asked him if the "selective" media screening of his film was aimed at influencing the Central Board of Film Certification, sources said.

Bhansali appeared before the parliamentary standing committee on information technology to share his views on the controversy surrounding the film.

Film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali arrives to meet a parliamentary panel in New Delhi on Thursday.
Film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali arrives to meet a parliamentary panel in New Delhi on Thursday.
(Photo: PTI)

‘Based on Jayasi’s Poem, Not on History’

Bhansali assured the panel that Padmavati is based on Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s poem Padmavat and not on history, Times Now reported.

Referring to the 16th century Indian sufi poet's epic poem, Bhansali said:

All the controversy over the film is based on rumours. I have not distorted facts. The film is based on a poem by Malik Muhammad Jayasi... We don’t intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments.

The committee grilled Bhansali and censor board chief Prasoon Joshi for over 2.5 hours, the report added.

The director has been given time till 14 December to give a written reply to the panel about the movie and the controversy surrounding it.
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'Was Selective Screening a Way to Influence the Censor Board?’

Sources said the members of the panel asked him:

How could you assume that the movie could be released on 1 December when you applied to the CBFC on 11 November. As per the cinematography act, the CBFC may take 68 days before certifying a movie? Is selective media screening of the movie fair and ethical? Was it an act to influence the CBFC?

The panel asked if creating a controversy was a new trend to sell the movie, sources said.

The panel said media was giving free space due to the ongoing controversy and even social media had given the movie immense space.

They said it seemed that his movies tend to target communities which produced tension between them.

Process of Certification Underway: Prasoon Joshi

The CBFC chief Joshi had told the Lok Sabha Committee on Petitions, earlier in the day, that the process of certifying the film was under way, sources said.

Some panel members expressed their opposition to the trailer and said it should be banned along with the film, it is learnt. Sources said Joshi told the panel that he had not seen the film as yet.

When some members opposed to the film also asked how the film had reached the UK when it had not been approved here, the CBFC chief explained that it was an independent process.

According to procedure, a regional committee would review the film. If necessary, a central committee would then take a view. A final decision would be taken after consulting experts.

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Before the meeting, panel chairman Anurag Thakur, talking to India Today, asked why the controversy started even before the movie was certified by the censor board.

He also told India Today that there have been instances where controversies have been created around films just to get extra publicity, and that this topic would be discussed in the meeting. 

Thakur also said the media too played a role in creating a perception amongst the audience, referring to death threats against Deepika Padukone who is playing the title role. The cases registered against the people who issued inflammatory statements by the respective state governments was not played up by the media. This at times leads to forming a negative mindset amongst the audience, he noted.

Members who raised objections against the movie include Congress' CP Joshi, BJP's OM Birla and Shiv Sena's Rajan Vichare. They also sought ban on airing the promos of the film.

Padmavati director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and censor board chief Prasoon Joshi were asked by a parliamentary committee on IT to appear before it and present their views on the controversy surrounding the movie which has been accused of distorting history by fringe groups.

The 30-member panel had also asked producers of the movie and officials of the information and broadcasting ministry to appear before it and brief about the controversy relating to the Rs 150 crore film.

The panel has asked Bhansali and Joshi to appear before it and present their views on the movie. They can present their case before the panel. The members have also decided to call the producers of the movie.
Panel chairman Anurag Thakur to PTI
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Interestingly, actors Paresh Rawal and Raj Babbar, who are members of Parliament, were also part of the panel which examined the issues relating to the movie.

The film, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, is based on Rajput queen Padmini.

As allegations of distorting history in the film triggered protests in various states, the makers of the movie have deferred its release date. The film was scheduled to release on 1 December 2017.

The Karni Sena, a fringe group, as well as the BJP have been critical of the film and a number of BJP ruled states have already banned it.

The set of the movie was vandalised twice - in Jaipur and Kolhapur - and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was roughed up by members of Karni Sena earlier in 2017.

Another parliamentary panel has also called the officials of the ministry and censor board over the controversy.

(With inputs from IANS, PTI.)

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