Why Madhya Pradesh’s ban on Padmavati is invalid, unlawful

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Mumbai, Nov 22: It seems everyone wants to ban the upcoming Bollywood period drama, Padmavati. The Madhya Pradesh government is the first one to announce a ban on the magnum opus on Monday. 

Like MP, other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states, including Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, are mulling over imposing a ban on the film which has irked several Hindu groups for allegedly distorting history.

padmavati

Speaking on the issue of Shivraj Singh Chouhan government's decision to ban the film, former controversial chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Pahlaj Nihalani said that a movie cannot be banned in a state before receiving a certification from the Censor Board, as the CBFC is popularly known as.

"Movies cannot be banned. A state can impose a ban only if it is deemed that the movie may disrupt law and order situation in the state, and only after film certification. A certificate is yet to be issued to Padmavati," Nihalani told ANI, adding, "Unless certificate is not issued, no state can make 'jumlas' like 'we'll cut it' or 'we'll not let it release'."

Nihalani further informed that the producer of the movie can approach the court if the scenes do get cut.

While declaring a ban on the film, MP chief minister Chouhan said that his government won't allow the release of the film in the state unless the objectionable scenes were removed.

The film was earlier scheduled to release on December 1. Recently, the makers of the film decided to postpone its release taking into consideration the constant threats and protests against Padmavati, its director, and actors.

Moreover, the CBFC has recently sent back the film to its makers citing "technical deficiencies". The board has asked the makers to resend the film for revision.

The CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi had said that the board will arrive at a decision after a discussion. However, Nihalani, whose stint was full of controversies as he censored several movies, said that a chairperson cannot decide the fate of a movie.

"The examination committee decides after watching the movie; the chairman cannot decide," he said. "Unless the censor board pronounces its decision, the opinion of everyone else is of no value," Nihalani added.

The protest against the Bhansali's film was started by a fringe group--Shri Rajput Karni Sena--after it vandalised the sets of the film and slapped the director during the shooting of Padmavati in Jaipur in January.

Thereafter, members of Shri Rajput Karni Sena once again destroyed the sets of the film in Maharashtra. After those two incidents, protests against the film almost went silent.

As the makers of the film released the trailer of Padmavati and declared its release date, protests over the film once again started and this time it got ample support from both the Congress and the BJP.

The protesters of the film, including descendants of Rajput rulers, stated that the film hurts the sentiments of the community and the Hindus in general by distorting historical facts. However, historians are yet to confirm whether queen Padmini actually existed or not and the film has been inspired by a 16th-century poem.

In recent times, several political leaders and goons of right-wing groups have announced death threats to Deepika Padukone, the lead actress of the film, and Bhansali.

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