The making and attempted release of Padmavati (now Padmaavat) have been quite a rollercoaster ride. There was vandalism of the set and assault of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali when the film was being shot. When the Padmavati trailer was released, most of us started to look forward to the movie release. However, the release was delayed because of protests and threats. Now, after the name has been changed from Padmavati to Padmaavat and a release date finally decided, there is still no end to the problems that the film has been facing.
The CBFC cleared the film for release; however, four states decided that the film would not be released in their respective regions. Those states are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana. Predictably, the law and order situation was cited as the reason why the states decided against permitting the film's screening.
The producers moved the court against the ban. Consequently, the Supreme Court stayed the ban and said that since the CBFC had cleared the film there could be no reason not to exhibit it. “We are concerned that a film is being banned from being exhibited…expression of a creative content. My constitutional conscience is shocked,” the Chief Justice was quoted as having said. The SC also observed that valuable constitutional rights (right to freedom of speech and expression) are at stake here.
As many of the comments below the trailer indicate, most people are happy about the stay of the ban by the SC; and wanted to reject the political propaganda surrounding it. Many who are fans of Sanjay Leela Bhansali films and fans of Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh were elated. Those who were looking forward to watching a lavishly made, sweeping epic of a film were happy that they would be able to watch the film soon.
Many commentators were of the view that artists should be free to express themselves via their work and that this was an instance of art winning. Many congratulated the filmmakers and wished them success.
The progress of the film has been marked by incidents of violence, vandalism and public intimidation. In a progressive, democratic nation, these are not acceptable. People are free not to watch a film and they also free to protest; so long as the protest is peaceful.
Some pointed out how the clash of two big releases on the same day – Padman and Padmaavat could mean that the fortunes of the films, could be negatively impacted.
Those protesting against the film have offered cash ‘prizes’ for those who behead the filmmakers and cut off the nose of the film's lead actor. They have threatened to set those theatres exhibiting the film on fire. If there is the apprehension of law and order problems, security should be beefed up and preventive measures should be taken.
Tweets also spoke about the school in MP that was vandalized simply because the children were performing to a song from the film. Many feel that there is now a culture of impunity that has been allowed to flourish which results in such brazen acts of criminality.
The movie has been exhibited privately to some including popular spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who said that he loved the film and called it a ‘beautiful tribute to Rani Padmavati’. He urged people to watch the film which would ‘make you proud’.
The SC order is in favour of democracy and free speech. Filmmakers cannot be held to ransom by those who break the law. If someone dislikes something they may not engage with it. If it offends them they are free to protest and opt for legal recourse. It is now up to state governments to ensure that the law is upheld and those acting legally are protected.
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