By RAHUL RAUT
The controversies regarding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus ‘Padmavati’ refuse to die so soon. Despite the film’s release date being deferred indefinitely, it is still facing the ire of fringe groups and political leaders who have accused the filmmaker of distorting historical facts and hurting the sentiments of Rajputs. Amidst all the controversies and bad-mouthing, Hindi film fraternity shockingly stayed silent and didn’t come in support of Bhansali.
However, Film and Television industry have now united against this hooliganism. As a mark of solidarity with Padmavati, 19 cine bodies across India have announced a 15-minute blackout. Hundreds of people – from filmmakers to workers – across the country will stop shooting for 15 minutes to protect the right to freedom of expression of those in the creative field. During the blackout period scheduled to take place today, all shoots will be halted from 4.15 pm to 4.30 pm IST across studios in India.
Titled ‘Main Azaad Hoon?’ (Am I Free?), the protest will begin at 3.30 pm IST at Film City main entrance in Mumbai today. Film organizations such as Indian Films and TV Directors Association (IFTDA), Indian Motion Picture Producers Association (IMPPA), Western India Cinematographers Association, Screen Writers Association, The Film and Television Producers Guild of India Limited, Association of Voice Artistes, Cine Costume & Make-up Artiste and Hair Dressers Association, Cine Singer Association, Movie Stunt Artistes Association, among others will participate.
Over 700 people from the entire film industry in India are expected to come together in the support of ‘Padmavati’ today. IFTDA which has organised this protest has also requested all concerns citizens to join them to hold a protest against bullies, who resort to the undignified way of arm-twisting creative content of films and television.
“Sanjay is a responsible filmmaker, and making a film on history is not something easy for him but a big responsibility. To express our solidarity (with the film), we are gathering on Sunday for a 15-minute blackout where all shooting units in Mumbai will put off lights and no shootings will take place,” filmmaker and IFTDA convenor, Ashoke Pandit said. “Through this protest, we are trying to say let us know – Are we free people? Are we living in a democratic country?”
“We strongly protest against the non-institutional bodies who every now and then protest against movies and threaten actors and makers of films. We will keep condemning their actions in a democratic manner. We have faith in our Prime Minister…for justice to ‘Padmavati’,” he further added.
Meanwhile, after getting banned in BJP-ruled states such as Gujrat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has rendered support to ‘Padmavati’. “If they cannot release it in any other state, we will give special arrangement for Padmavati. Bengal will be very happy and Bengal will be proud to do that,” Banerjee said yesterday.
Veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah has also come forth to speak for the Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor starrer historical saga. “Let’s see how many come out in support of ‘Padmavati’. No one has spoken yet. Just how thin-skinned have we become that we take offence against just about anything. Is our faith so small that it gets endangered by a movie? Are our beliefs that fragile that the world will start believing a movie, and not what has come down as a legend? How insecure are we? Today, when thousands are rising in protest, I wonder how easily our sensibilities can be flamed.”
“I am not a part of ‘Padmavati’, and neither have I seen it, but I’ve seen Bhansali’s work. He puts his all into the film,” Shah said.
‘Padmavati’ was scheduled to release on 1st December but the makers recently announced that they have voluntarily deferred the release date. The new release date hasn’t been announced yet but if the latest rumours are to be believed, the makers are now eyeing the slot of 26th January to open it globally. Interestingly, Akshay Kumar’s ‘Padman’ and Neeraj Pandey’s ‘Aiyaary’ are already scheduled to release on that date.