New Delhi: The makers of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmavati" are willing to show the epic drama to anyone doubting its content, but only on getting a green signal from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
"We are screening the film to CBFC as per established procedure and convention followed in the industry. Once a censor certificate is obtained, we do not have any reservations with screening the film to quell any doubts that are being cast on the film, although such practice is without a precedent," Ajit Andhare, Chief Operating Officer, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, said. Viacom18 Motion Pictures has produced "Padmavati" with Bhansali Productions, and it will distribute the film in India. The movie is embroiled in a controversy as some Hindu groups and political parties, including the Congress and the BJP, claim that the film distorts history and wrongly portrays Rajput queen Padmavati, a contention Bhansali has repeatedly rebuffed.
One BJP member has demanded that Bhansali be "tried for treason" and that CBFC should not certify the movie, while some want the movie's release date to be delayed in view of the Gujarat elections, and then there are others who feel the movie must be shown to historians before it is given wings to fly. The Rajasthan government is also planning to set up a committee to watch the movie. Andhare is confident the CBFC will have "appropriate representation from the necessary quarters, historians included. We have no reservations on that count. We trust the CBFC's judgement," he said, as they await a CBFC screening of the film. When is the film likely to be certified? "We are looking at CBFC to do it soonest, to facilitate the planed release on December 1," he said, underlining that as of now, there are no plans to change the release date. What is their stand on the political uproar over the movie's content? "We have already clarified that all anxieties about the alleged depiction are unfounded. Sanjay has personally assured in a video that the film celebrates the Queen and Rajput valour, dignity and traditions. Contrary to perception, the film celebrates the classic legend of Padmavati and no creative liberty of the kind alleged has been taken," he said.
The conjecture is that the makers have showcased a romantic dream sequence between Rani Padmavati and invader Alauddin Khilji -- a claim put to rest by Bhansali as incorrect. Distributors in Rajasthan are said to be wary about releasing the film after the brouhaha. But Andhare said: "All our distributors are with us. There is nothing in the film that should cause any worry. It's a film Rajasthan will be proud to watch once it gets smooth release."
He is aiming for "a wide release" for the movie after securing the censor certification. "We have full faith in CBFC and its chairman (Prasoon Joshi) and are optimistic that we will be able to release the film on time and it will be supported and loved widely by the people resulting in strong business. We have made the film with utmost sincerity and integrity," Andhare said. On Friday, Joshi came out in support of Bhansali, saying the CBFC respected him "as an individual and artist". "Padmavati" features a cast led by Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh.