On a day when the Supreme Court pulled up chief ministers for passing comments on the movie Padmavati, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said his government was not in favour of allowing the release until the filmmakers issued a clarification to end the controversy.
Kumar is the latest political leader to speak on the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, which has been in the proverbial eye of the storm over allegations that it distorts history.
“I am not in favour of the movie’s release until its producer, director and all those who are associated with it offer a clarification putting the controversy to rest,” Kumar said.
He did not specify what clarification he was looking for.
His comment comes on a day the Supreme Court took strong exception to statements made by persons holding high offices against the film, saying the remarks were tantamount to pre-judging the movie which is yet to be certified by the Censor Board.
Bharatiya Janata Party governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have either said that they will ban the film or demanded that “objectionable content” in it be removed.
The film has been facing the wrath of various Rajput groups and political leaders, who have accused Bhansali of distorting history. Many groups have been protesting amid rumours that there is a romantic dream sequence between Rajput queen Padmini and Allauddin Khilji. However, Bhansali has said in an appeal that there is no dream sequence and it is all a rumour.
Asked whether any instructions had been issued for a ban on the release of the movie in Bihar, Principal Secretary (Home) Amir Subhani earlier in the day said that they had received no such information.
As the chief minister spoke his mind on the controversial film, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Neeraj Kumar Singh reached the Bihar assembly premises with photographs of Bhansali and Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan garlanded with shoes and slippers pasted on his vehicle.
Khan had said recently that Muslims never objected to “Mughal-e-Azam” though Anarkali was wrongly shown as Prince Salim’s beloved because the community was “large hearted”.
Singh told reporters that he was a Rajput and could not tolerate any insult to Rajput sentiment.
“In the trailer of the movie, queen Padmini has been shown dancing, which is contrary to what history tells us about the legendary figure.
“I would have no objections if they had changed the name of the character. Filmmakers can portray a fictitious character in whatever manner they wish. But they cannot be allowed to portray historical figures in a distorted manner,” the BJP MLA said.
Singh also displayed a copy of a letter he wrote to Nitish Kumar, praying for a ban on the release of the film in the state.
Image: Members of Rajput community chant slogans as they protest against the release of the Bollywood movie Padmavati. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters