With a history edit, Censor has its ‘I’, Padmavati its release

Written by Srijana Mitra Das , Dipti Nagpaul | New Delhi/mumbai | Updated: December 31, 2017 8:33 am Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati awaits CBFC certification.

With a name change, a disclaimer, and “relevant modifications” to the song Ghoomar, the film Padmavati may finally see a release. The Censor board issued a statement on Saturday afternoon saying an examining committee meeting held on December 28 had decided to allow release of the film with the above changes and and a UA certificate. Censor board chief Prasoon Joshi told The Sunday Express that they had not asked for any cuts.

In an exclusive interview, Joshi said that the producers and director of Padmavati are “completely in agreement with these changes”. He also defended setting up a “special panel” to see the film and suggest changes, saying, “It is very important that creativity with responsibility should stay paramount. It is important for all of us to learn to hear newer voices and listen to unfamiliar points of view with mutual respect, equanimity and grace.”

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has suggested that the name of the film may be changed from ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmavat’, as per the “attributed material/creative source”. The film borrows from the poem Padmavat, written by 16th-century Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi.

The filmmakers have also been asked to add a disclaimer stating that the film does not glorify the banned practice of Sati, and to make changes to Ghoomar song in keeping with the fact that Deepika Padukone plays a Rajput princess. Rajput groups had protested saying a princess of their community would never dance in front of men who were strangers.

Contrary to rumours, Joshi told The Sunday Express, “There are no cuts suggested by the CBFC — there are only five modifications. These are to change the disclaimer clearly to one that does not claim historical accuracy, to change the title itself, to make modifications in the song Ghoomar, to modify misleading references to historical places, and to add a disclaimer which clearly makes the point that the film in no manner subscribes to the practice of Sati or seeks to glorify it.”

A spokesperson of producers Viacom Motion Pictures said neither them nor director Sanjay Leela Bhansali would be commenting on the development as of now. As per procedure, the UA certificate will be issued once the required modifications are carried out and final material is submitted.

READ | Rajput groups: Want nothing less than ban on Padmavati, will vandalise halls

Asked if filmmakers dealing with ‘socially sensitive’ topics would now have to buckle before ‘hurt sentiments’ and get their film cleared by ‘special panels’, the CBFC chairperson said, “The scenario is not that simplistic. As society grows and changes, nothing can stay un-impacted. Our nerves are intertwined in one societal consciousness. Also, every situation has its learnings and offers food for thought to all of us.”

Joshi added that the filmmakers, BhansaIi Productions, in a written communication to the CBFC, “had themselves requested for a special panel of historians and members of the Rajput community to view the film. Having a specialist panel at the CBFC has been done before, in the case of Aarakshan, where an eminent panel representing a concerned group was created, and Jodhaa Akbar, where historical experts were called in.”

At the same time, he acknowledged that Padmavati presented “an unprecedented situation”. “It has been tough. But I’m glad that following a balanced approach, we could resolve things in both a pragmatic and positive manner.”

About cinema’s position as art, without social groups censoring it, Joshi said, “Well, cinema is certainly an art — and alongside, it is also for larger public consumption. In a commercial world, the desire for having an increased share of the public’s wallet will also have to contend with an increased share of the public voice.”

The CBFC release said that the December 28 meeting, preceded by a screening of the film, was attended by Joshi, members of the executive committee and a special panel comprising Udaipur royal Arvind Singh and academics Dr Chandramani Singh and K K Singh of Jaipur University. “The members of the panel had insights and also some reservations regarding the claimed historical events and socio-cultural aspects, which were duly discussed at length,” said the release.

Following the meeting, a feedback session was held with the producers and director of Padmavati, the CBFC release said. The suggestions for changes were shared with the fimmakers, and they were in agreement with the modifications, it said.

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