Dubai: The producers of Padmavati – a Bollywood movie based on an epic poem about a Rajput queen, said on Sunday they had indefinitely delayed the release of the film, which has been accused of distorting history and has sparked protests.
The movie, which was due to be released in India on December 1, has led to protests in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and other states. It has also faced a delay in approval from the Indian censor board.
Lead star of the film Deepika Padukone is still scheduled to arrive in the UAE to attend an awards ceremony on November 24.
However, it remains to be seen if the rest of the team of this historical epic will keep their date with Sharjah for the Asiavision Movie Awards.
Padukone, with Padmavati cast members Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, were due to promote their period drama in the UAE and attend the event at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday evening.
Right-wing Hindu organisations in India are protesting against the release of the historic epic due to what they say is a distorted portrayal of Padmini, a queen referenced in a poem written in 1540, which Bhansali has repeatedly denied.
Some groups have demanded that the movie’s release be deferred in view of the Gujarat Assembly elections.
The makers have also not received a clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which said the application from the makers was “incomplete”.
“We are a responsible, law-abiding corporate citizen and have the highest respect and regard for the law of the land and all our institutions and statutory bodies including the CBFC,” the spokesperson said.
“We always have and are committed to continue following the established procedure and convention. We have faith that we will soon obtain the requisite clearances to release the film.
“We will announce the revised release date of the film in due course,” the statement added.
On Saturday, CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi expressed disappointment over the film being screened for some journalists, who said the movie didn’t have anything that would hurt people’s sentiments.
The makers have described Padmavati as “a beautiful cinematic masterpiece that captures Rajput valour, dignity and tradition in all its glory”.
“The film is an eloquent portrayal of a tale that will fill every Indian with pride and showcase our country’s storytelling prowess across the globe,” the spokesperson added.
Padmavati features Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in lead roles.
Earlier, Bollywood veteran actress Shabana Azmi called for the boycott of a film festival in India in support of Padmavati.
“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. Death threats had been made against Padukone and film director Bhansali.
Actor-filmmaker Arbaaz Khan also weighed in on the controversy, saying: “This is a democratic country where we have the freedom of speech and expression. If anyone has any objection with anything, then there is a lawful way of doing it.”
He continued: “You cannot release a film without CBFC certificate. They decide which film is proper for public consumption, so we should let them decide first and after CBFC has passed the film, it’s up to the audience whether they want to see it or not. You can’t take the law into your own hands.”
Khan’s comment comes even as mass opposition continued across India with protestors blocking entry to the Kumbhalgarh fort in Rajsamand, Rajasthan on Saturday.
Protesters shouted slogans against Bhansali and demanded a ban on the movie. Kumbhalgarh fort is the birth place of famous Indian Rajput king, Maharana Pratap.