Following months of uncertainty, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's controversial Hindi film Padmavati will release on January 25 as Padmavat with a U/A certificate. It will clash with Akshay Kumar's PadMan.
Padmavati - now Padmavat - was earlier slated for release on December 1, 2017 but the studio had voluntarily deferred it following a long-stretched controversy.
The movie, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor has been mired in a row after the Shree Rajput Karni Sena claimed it distorted historical facts related to the Rajput community.
The group has been persistent in its demand for a ban on the movie despite Bhansali's clarification before a Parliamentary committee that the row over the movie was just based on rumours.
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Last month, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) - in consultation with a special advisory panel - decided it will grant U/A certificate to the movie but subject to five modifications, including title change.
The makers were asked to add disclaimers - one of them regarding not glorifying the practice of sati and also relevant modifications in the song Ghoomar to befit the character portrayed.
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An official communication from team Padmavat regarding the final modifications has not been made yet.
Its release date announcement led to a stir in the film trade circles. Film and trade business expert Girish Johar said, "It's a complex situation for Padmavat. They have too short a time before the release, plus there are hurdles for it as certain states have announced a blanket ban, and the Karni Sena continues to oppose the movie.
"However, from the box office point of view, it's a great thing that two big films - Padmavat and PadMan - will release on the extended weekend. It will be a huge weekend. Audiences will have a choice of both films. Obviously the better one will have a longer run."
PadMan will see Akshay Kumar take on the role of a real life hero who introduced low-cost sanitary napkins for the hygiene and safety of women in his village.
According to the buzz, the Padmavat release announcement has also impacted the release date of movies like Aiyaary and Pari.
Going by the popular mood in Rajasthan though, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia on Monday said Sanjay Leela Bhansali's movie will not be released in the cinema halls of the state.
"The sacrifice by Queen Padmini (also known as Padmavati) is a matter of honour and respect for all of us and hence we will not allow anyone to show disrespect to this honour," Scindia added further.
Queen Padmini, she said, "is not just a historical character for us,= but our pride and we will not allow anyone to disrespect this pride in any away".
Scindia has also written to state Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria in this regard.
She further stated that the film would not be released in the state "respecting the sentiments of the people of Rajasthan". Scindia has already written to Smriti Irani (Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting) in this regard. As it touches the emotions of people of Rajasthan, we will not allow it to be released in Rajasthan," Home Minister Kataria told media persons.
Replying to a question as to why it was being released in India then, he said that the controversial part had been removed from the film. "Although no one has seen it as of now, the CBFC (Central Board for Film Certification) and producer are claiming the same (removal of controversial part). Once it is released, the facts will come to the fore," he added.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Ashok Parnami also said that the film Padmavat would not be released in Rajasthan. "If there is tampering with the history in any film that affects the sentiments of people of Rajasthan, then it will not be released in the state," he added.
Later on, the Rajput Samaj also called a press conference to announce that the central as well as the state governments would lose a major share of their vote bank if they chose to allow the release of the controversial film.
Rajpur Sabha chief Giriraj Singh Lotwada said: "Queen Padmini is our honour and we will not allow our honour to be desecrated at any cost."
Shri Rajput Karni Sena, however, still remains firm on its stand, disallowing release of the movie. It is now demanding that the names of the characters in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie be changed.
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