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PADMAVATI: Is it media v/s CBFC now?!

The latest disappointment raised by CBFC Chief Prasoon Joshi and PADMAVATI makers is doing no good. We are having it all now, from threats to vandalizing the theatres, chopping of Deepika Padukone’s nose, beheading of Bhansali, Bharat Bandh and now a thumps up by channel heads in favour of the film before the certification from CBFC.

PADMAVATI debate has now turned into a circus which is now finding ring masters and jokers every now and then. The latest is the chest thumping of media heads like Arnab Goswami and Rajat Sharma in support of Bhansali’s PADMAVATI produced by Viacom 18 starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor.

The renowned media persons have watched the film before CBFC and given their verdict saying there was no distortion of history in the film. “After watching the entire film, I can emphatically say that there is not a single dialogue, not a single scene, not a single sequence that can be said to go against the proud history of the Rajputs of Rajasthan,” Rajat Sharma said on his show. Arnab Goswami even called Padmavati the “greatest ever tribute to Rajput pride”. Speaking on his primetime show on television.

Unfortunately, the change of stand by PADMAVATI makers may not go well. CBFC chief’s disappointment with the makers for showing the movie before the certification of CBFC is justified and ideally it is a compromise on the prevailing systems and norms that are part of a functioning industry. “It is myopic to treat certification process haphazardly to suit convenience,” Joshi told ANI. “On one hand, the CBFC is being pressurized to accelerate the process, and on the other hand, it is an attempt to subvert the very process. It sets an opportunistic precedent.”

As per reports, The CBFC rejected PADMAVATI application as the paper work was incomplete. “The disclaimer whether the film is a work of fiction or historical was left blank,” Joshi said. “On being asked to provide the important documents, the CBFC is being targeted for ‘looking the other way’. It is surprising.” Joshi has been quoted saying to the news agency ANI.

It all happened after CEO of Viacom18 pictures, Ajay Andhare posted his displeasure on the CBFC rejection to PADMAVATI application on his social media post which read, “ What an irony, those who are supposed to watch are looking the other way and we have to run around and show it at other forums to ‘clear’ it,”.

Now this change of stand and having a ‘select’ screening is actually provoking the protesters who are now claiming that the makers are showing the film to ‘their’ people and not them. Are the makers trying to influence the CBFC and the public in general by showing the film to powerful media bosses and forming an opinion in their favour. Does this really defuse the situation or create further confusion?.

On the other hand, Shabana Azmi has urged the Film Industry to boycott the upcoming Goa Film Festival and questioned the intent of CBFC. She posted, “#Padmavatis application to CBFC has been sent back bcoz of incomplete formalities! Really? Or to keep fires stoked for electoral gains?. In another post, she requested the entire film industry to boycott the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in protest against the threats to actor Deepika Padukone, who is essaying the titular role in Padmavati. She added, "Sabki dukaan chal rahi hai under the patronage not of the fringe but of the Govt in power. Filmindustry must stand as 1 with #Padmavati."

The PADMAVATI row has brought the nation to a standstill overpowering other important issues with continuous debates on television channels over the existence of Rani Padmavati in the Indian history. Yes, in no way the fringe element can have its say and decide which movie we should be watching, in the same way the filmmakers in this case could have gone through the process and left it to the CBFC whether to pass the film on its own wisdom or invite historians and scholars to take their opinion to obtain a proper judgment.

At the best, the makers of PADMAVATI could have shown the film to influential people which include the above mentioned media persons plus learned historians and rational thinkers for ‘personal and private’ discussions only. In no way the makers should have breached the norms of film certification and similarly the media persons should have respected the position of the fourth estate before giving their verdict in public domain for a film which is yet to be certified by the designated government authority CBFC.

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Pooja Hegde

Kiara Advani

Hina Khan

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