Will Sanjay Bhansali accede to CBFC directive ordering 26 extensive cuts and title change in #Padmavati?

Every maker is free to challenge the CBFC directive in the Tribunal or a Higher Court; it had happened in Udta Punjab too, says former CBFC chairperson, Pahlaj Nihalani

By Manishaa R

With the CBFC reportedly ordering three disclaimers, a change in the title and 26 cuts including deletion of all realistic references to Mewar and Chittorgarh in Padmavati, the big question is whether the producers Viacom 18 and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali would agree to the extensive modifications. According to a confidential source, Bhansali was said to be extremely unhappy with the suggested cuts some of which were crucial to the story-telling but were against the idea of approaching the Film Appellate Tribunal, considering that the release of the film was already delayed. Apparently, the makers were now looking at following the CBFC directives and going ahead with the stipulated 9th February release. This is also evident from reports suggesting that the overseas release of Padmavati has been confirmed for February 9 in Canada and US.

Among the three disclaimers which are sought to be placed at the beginning, end and after the interval, are references to historical locations, Queen Padmini and the Ghoomar song, besides other pointers which reflect the authenticity of the storyline. But the biggest setback is the directive to now rename the film, Padmavat, which would imply that the story would be entirely based on the epic poem written by Malik Muhammad Jyasi.

Meanwhile Pahlaj Nihalani has lashed out at the ongoing CBFC chief for succumbing to political pressure and delaying the release of Padmavati thereby causing huge losses to the producers and the entire film industry, “This is a complete loss to the producer and the industry, simply because of the delay caused by the CBFC in viewing the film. As per the rules, the CBFC should have watched the film independently, without allowing the body to come under pressure from the Government. It is very obvious that there was a political move to delay the film,” Nihalani said.

The former CBFC Chairperson pointed out that the protests and the subsequent political pressure would not have come into play if the film had been cleared on time, “The problems intensified after the delay in the clearance.  The CBFC could have seen the film as per the queue of applications and ordered any number of cuts as per the guidelines,” he said.

This is a complete loss to the producer and industry, caused by the CBFC delay in viewing the film. As per the rules, CBFC should have watched the film independently without allowing the body to come under pressure from the Government- Pahlaj Nihalani, former CBFC chief

Nihalani also said that filmmakers, who were not satisfied with the cuts ordered by CBFC, were free to challenge it in the Tribunal or a higher court, “I am not aware about the cuts and modifications but it all depends on the maker and whether or not he is happy with the suggested cuts. He has full liberty to go to the Film Appellate Tribunal or a higher court if he is not in a hurry to release the film,” Nihalani said. He cited the instance of the Shahid Kapoor-Alia Bhatt starrer, Udta Punjab, when he was the Chairperson and the CBFC had ordered 13 cuts in the film, “The producers went to court, appealing against the decision and the film was released with minimal cuts. The court had upheld the freedom of expression of the makers,” he said. At that time the Bombay High Court had directed the CBFC to issue certification to the film with an ‘A’ certificate and a modified disclaimer, adding that a filmmaker had the right to his creative freedom of expression.