20 March 2018 07:04 PM



Is The Censor Board Redundant Now? Why Are States Banning Padmavat Screening?

A look at the states and their flimsy excuses

The manner is which several Indian states are banning the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavat even after the Central Board of Film Certification has passed it following the slight change in its title, it would appear that these states have themselves decided to become state censor boards unto themselves, rendering the decision of the CBFC and the Supreme Court null and void.

On December 28, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) cleared the film with an U/A certificate without any “cuts” but called for modifications, including a change in the name from "Padmavati" to "Padmavat" - the title of Malik Muhammad Jayasi's epic, which is believed to be the source of the film - and a disclaimer on historical accuracy.

Let us take a closer look. The Gujarat government issued a notification banning the screening of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmaavat" across the state, through a statement made by Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja who said that the step was necessary to maintain law and order. What does the phrase “law and order” mean in this context? There is no elaboration. Whose ‘law’ and what ‘order’, pray?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines the phrase “law and order” as: “a situation in which laws are obeyed and people behave in an organized and peaceful way.” As per the notification, the ban was imposed as per the provisions of the Gujarat Cinemas (Regulation) Act of 2004.

"In exercise conferred by sub-section 1 of section 6 of the Act, Government of Gujarat hereby imposes the ban on Hindi feature film 'Padmaavat'...No cinema owners or distributors shall exhibit the said movie in any cinema/multiplex/ video cinema/touring cinema within the jurisdiction of Gujarat," the notification read.

Is the law and order situation all right in Gujarat right now? According to a media report (TOI, February 9, 2017) “Gujarat high court commented that the law and order situation in the state, particularly in the Saurashtra town of Kodinar, is worse than what we hear about the situation that prevails in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.The high court commented on the law and order situation after it was stunned on watching videos of rioting that were played in the courtroom. Policemen were seen escorting rioters when they attacked the house of one Rafiq Salot. When the mob was ransacking the house and damaging the vehicles parked beside it, the policemen were silent spectators.”

So much for “law and order’ in the state where a ban on an already censored film seems to have created a fear psychosis among different political groups mainly belonging to the Hindu Right, the ruling party and its satellite political groups.

Other states who have also declared the ban are Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. “Queen Padmini’s sacrifice is linked to the honour and pride of Rajasthan. Queen Padmini is not just a chapter in history but our pride and self-respect. We will not let her dignity be maligned,” Vasundhara Raje, the CM of Rajasthan said.

How can a fictitious queen whose existence remains invisible in history books be “the honour and pride of Rajasthan?”

Rani Padmini or Padmavati is not mentioned in any Rajput or Sultanate annals, and there is absolutely no historical evidence that she even existed. The all-clear from the censor board failed to satisfy the Rajasthan CM who said the film would not be shown in cinemas in the state, even as the Rajput community demanded a nationwide ban on the film.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has gone on record saying, “Nobody would be allowed to hurt the sentiments of people belonging to a particular community.” What “sentiments”? Which “people” belonging to which “particular community”? How can one who remains beyond the pages of history hurt the sentiments of a particular community?

Calling Rani Padmavati ‘Rashtramata’, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a ban on screening of the film in Madhya Pradesh in November, based on reports that historical facts have been distorted in the movie. MP was the first state to announce a ban on screening of the movie and there has been no change in the stance of the government so far.

Nitish Kumar, CM of Bihar announced that the film will be permitted screening in the state only after the “parties involved” reach an “amicable solution.” Really? After ruling out banning of Padmavati without watching it, Punjab Chief minister Amarinder Singh decided to go along with the protestors against the film. “Nobody will accept distortion of history and those who are protesting are rightly doing so,” he reportedly said.

One wishes that the Karni Sena we had never heard of till they decided to destroy everything to do with the film Padmavati/Padmavat trying to protect their “culture” and “history” in extremely anti-cultural and ahistorical ways would have read up on authentic history to be able to justify their keenness “to protect the lineage of their ancestors from any misrepresentation” before they wreaked violence.

The facts are as follows:

1. Allauddin Khilji lived between 1296 and 1316

2. Padmini is mentioned in Malik’s poem in 1540

3. the legendary mirror that the Padmini-Alauddin Khilji story so famously describes, was invented in Germany in 1835 by German chemist Justus von Liebig who developed a process for applying a thin layer of metallic silver to one side of a pane of clear glass

Sadly, our political leaders, ministers, satellite Hindu Right groups are really very poor in their knowledge of Indian history. They agitate, destroy, break and kill without caring to go to a school teacher who teaches history and learn the historical facts from him or her. Or take out their children’s History books and find out for themselves before turning into jokers that real life clowns and jokers of circus and magic shows would be embarrassed to include in their group! One might want to ask the CBFC, “where is the question of “accuracy” about a person or story which does have any basis in history?”