British censor board clears Padmavati: Will violent protests by Hindu groups spill over into UK?
London, Nov 27: The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), popularly known as the Censor Board, in India is allegedly dilly-dallying in clearing the controversial Bollywood film, Padmavati, after the board sent back the film to the makers over "technical discrepancies".
However, its British counterpart, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in the United Kingdom (UK), recently cleared Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus, Padmavati, without any cuts. The BBFC has classified the film for its UK release with a 12A rating.
Thus the film is likely to release in the UK on December 1. In fact, the controversial film on 14th-century Rajput queen Padmavati, facing the ire of Rajput and Hindu groups for allegedly "distorting history", was supposed to release in India on December 1.
The release of the film in India is in limbo after the makers of Padmavati decided to postpone its release in the country as protests and threats over the movie continue.
The decision of the BBFC has been opposed by Shri Rajput Karni Sena, the fringe group at the forefront in conducting violent protests across India over Padmavati. The group has issued threats to indulge in violence and burn film theatres if the movie is screened in the UK.
In a clarification, the makers of the film stated that the film won't be released in Britain. But that has not pacified the Hindu groups.
A Shri Rajput Karni Sena leader on Republic TV said: "We will go to an international court and call for the film to be banned. I call on my Rajput brothers and Hindus in the UK to protest against screening the film there ... I would have even gone myself to the UK but let me tell you, whichever cinema screens the film will be burned."
The threats by Shri Rajput Karni Sena leader are pretty frightening and it has disappointed several British officials and film fans that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India did nothing against those who are issuing an open warning against a country that is friendly to India because of a controversial film.
"It's shocking that a country we have such close ties with tolerates statements inciting violence against UK cinemas and UK citizens, and that our government hasn't reacted. I've written to the Home Office, the British high commission in India and several MPs demanding that Shri Rajput Karni Sena members be banned from entering the UK," wrote Sunny Malik, a freelance journalist and social media manager based in London, focusing on Bollywood films and Indian film stars, for The Guardian.
"Additionally, the government must clearly communicate to the Indian government that threats of this nature will not be tolerated. Neither will our freedom of choosing a film to watch be compromised due to local politics in India. The ball is now in the UK government's court," he added.
However, many say that the threats by Hindu groups of staging violent protests in the UK are mere words.
"It is unlikely, however, that Shri Rajput Karni Sena, a fringe group in India, has members in the UK and Rajput Samaj of UK was keen to stress it did not back calls for violence," stated a report by The Guardian.
A London-based Hindu charity, Rajput Samaj of UK, declared its opposition to the BBFC's decision to certify the film for release and said it would hold a peaceful protest over what it sees as a historically inaccurate account of Padmini, stated The Guardian.
It told The Guardian that it did not want the film to be released but emphasised that it was opposed to any violence and was not basing its protest on the speculation that the film depicts an intimate scene involving the queen, which the producers say is false.
The film by Bhansali, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, and Shahid Kapoor, is based on a 1540 poem by the Sufi writer Malik Muhammad Jaysi. Historians, however, are yet to confirm the existence of queen Padmavati from Chittor, Rajasthan, who self-immolated herself after Sultan of Delhi Alauddin Khilji tried to kidnap her.
The film is facing the ire of right-wing groups over alleged love scenes between queen Padmavati and Khilji as a part of a dream sequence, which Bhansali has repeatedly denied.
The movie, in spite of not being certified by the CBFC, has been banned in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, all three BJP-ruled states.