Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has decided to ban Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, which has been renamed Padmavat. There are other states also mulling over banning the film. Amidst this, former CBFC Chief Pahlaj Nihalani questions the autocracy of the state.
Instead of offering protection to the film and theatre owners as a head of the state, Raje has banned Padmavat only to safeguard her Rajput vote bank. Nearly one month after its scheduled release date, the film has finally been granted an ‘A’ certificate by the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification), but politicians and fringe elements are still hellbent on stopping the release of the film across India.
On this, former CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani said, “People are talking about democracy. Is this democracy around us? If the state cannot guarantee protection to ensure smooth release of a film that has been certified, how can they rule the state?’’
The film bodies are shocked as well at what is happening with Bhansali’s films and fear throttling of creative expression of filmmakers. Kulmeet Makkar, CEO of the Film and Television Producers Guild, said, “It will be a sad day if the sanctity of the certificate issued by CBFC is questioned or disrespected. The film has already gone through various difficult tests and now, when a statutory body like CBFC has decided to issue a certificate to the film then there should be no further roadblocks of any manner, including perceived law and order situation. The apex court in the past has also made it clear that films once certified by CBFC should not be prevented from the public exhibition by state governments, citing law and order reasons etc. In fact, states are duty bound to provide security to cinema halls to ensure smooth release of the film.’’
Senior journalist Bharathi Pradhan accuses Raje of supporting the opposition. Bharathi said, “Vasundhara Raje seems to be batting for the opposition, as she’s been imperiously taking decisions that only make her more and more unpopular. Banning Padmavat, despite a censor nod and a change in the title, is her latest unethical move. I hope Bhansali takes her to the court for it, and I hope he and the film get justice. Otherwise, it’ll be a sad phase for cinema if this sets a trend, where each state does its own censorship over and above that of the CBFC.”