Actress Shabana Azmi has called for the boycott of a film festival in support of the controversy-hit film Padmavati.
Right-wing Hindu organisations in India are protesting against the release of the historic epic due to what they say is an incorrect portrayal of Padmini, a queen referenced in a poem written in 1540.
“The entire film industry should boycott the IFFI [International Film Festival of India] next month in Goa in protest against the threats issued to Padmavati, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone,” Azmi said.
Azmi questioned the lack of action against perpetrators of violence against the Padmavati team.
“The [chief minister] of Rajasthan is sitting pretty. The first FIR lodged is under the Arms Act because there was open firing. Beyond that no action is taken against the criminals threatening naked violence,” she said.
“The Uttar Pradesh [government] is asking for a delay in Padmavati’s release as they foresee a law and order problem. But the first vow the CM took was to firmly clear the state of its criminal elements,” Azmi added.
Azmi also lashed out at the censor board for delaying the certification of Padmavati.
“The CBFC sends the film back because some paperwork is not complete. Only after 63 days will the film be screened for CBFC when Gujarat election is over and done with,” she said.
Azmi did not hide her resentment at what she sees as a victimisation of the entertainment industry for political purposes.
“I am very angry, film industry needs to take a strong unified action and refuse to be sitting ducks anymore. If such threats had been made against any member of the political class would the reaction have been the same? Are the people in the film industry not equal citizens of this country?” she asked.
CENSOR BOARD RESPONDS
tHE Central Board of Film Certification chief Prasoon Joshi said the film’s application had come up for review and that the makers admitted that the paperwork was incomplete.
In a statement, Joshi said “The makers know and admit that the paper work is not complete — the very disclaimer whether the film is [a] work of fiction or a historical was left blank and not stated — and on simply and legitimately being asked to provide important documents, target the CBFC for looking the other way and delay.”
He said the accusations were surprising.
“The CFBC is a responsible body and has the best interests of the industry and society. Let not convenient, casual methods be brought in to the practise,” he said.
Joshi also said: “Disappointing that the film Padmavati is being screened for the media and getting reviewed on national channels without CBFC having seen or certified the film. This compromises the role of systems and balances that are part of a functioning industry.”
Amidst growing protest over the film’s release, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje wrote a letter to India’s Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, where he said: “A committee of eminent historians, film personalities and members from the aggrieved community should be formed, who would watch the film and discuss it in detail.
“After that, necessary changes should be made to the movie so that the sentiments of any community are not affected.”