By Sugandha Rawal
Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal on Thursday hailed the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the ban against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat in some states, saying it is clearly the victory of freedom of expression in the country.
Benegal, who chaired a Ministry of Information and Broadcasting committee to propose ways to revamp the censor board, told IANS that once the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the Supreme Court have given the movie a go-ahead, nothing can stop its release.
The Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana governments had banned the movie's release in their states.
As for the organisations that are threatening to protest ahead of and when Padmaavat releases on January 25 over alleged distortion of historical facts, the state governments must intervene and ensure law and order is maintained, he said.
"The controversy is over. The film will be shown all over the country. The CBFC has anyway cleared the film and the Supreme Court has endorsed it. There is nothing to stop it except some people like (those from) Karni Sena and whoever they are... If they prevent it, then there will be a law and order situation, and the state government can take action against them," Benegal told IANS over phone.
"Quite clearly, it's a win for freedom of expression," he added.
The 83-year-old director, known for his socially relevant movies like Ankur, Nishant, Manthan and Bhumika, wonders why questions are being raised against the movie, which the makers have clearly stated is based on 16th century poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi's poem "Padmavat".
"After all, the simple thing is that 'Padmavat' is a classic. It was written in 1526 and not written yesterday or today. It is a classic work. We have accepted the literary classic which has been there since 1526 when Malik wrote it, and now the fact is that so many years later, some little organisation is saying that it is offending them and their sentiments. Does it make sense?
"It doesn't make sense to anybody expcept for that little group of people who are creeating all the noise," Benegal said, applauding the CBFC and Supreme Court's "correct step" for the Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor starrer.
CBFC on December 30 last year decided to grant a U/A certificate to the movie, subject to five modifications, including title change from Padmavati to Padmavat. The makers -- Bhansali Productions and Viacom18 Motion Pictures -- finally went with Padmaavat, and agreed to the other four points, maintaining that the movie glorifies Rajput pride, valour and honour.
However, Rajput outfit Shree Rajput Karni Sena has been adamant in its demand that the movie must not be screened.
Benegal said: "There is nothing to stop the state governments to act against these groups who are causing this problem, unless they are hand in glove with the group... What is going to prevent them?"
(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)