Mahendra Singh Mewar, the 76th Maharana of the Mewar dynasty and a former Lok Sabha member, on Sunday said the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has pulled off a public deception with the certification of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati”.
In a letter penned to Minister of Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Mahendra Singh has expressed concern over the “questionable conduct and consequences” of giving “Padmavati” a U/A certificate even subject to modifications.
“The CBFC, through Prasoon Joshi, has endorsed a film that misrepresents revered heroic characters and one that is likely to cause social unrest… This public deception pulled off on his watch suggests incompetence and/or complicity. Such hurried certification and continuing misrepresentations can only bring disrepute to the CBFC,” Mahendra Singh wrote in the letter — a copy of which is with IANS.
On Saturday, the CBFC announced its decision to certify “Padmavati” as U/A after five suggested modifications — including title change to “Padmavat” — are carried out by the filmmakers.
The decision was taken in a meeting in the presence of Joshi, and with a special panel comprising Arvind Singh from Udaipur, historian Chandramani Singh and Professor K.K. Singh of Jaipur University.
Earlier, Mahendra Singh’s son Maharajkumar Vishvaraj Singh had said that he was approached by Joshi to join the panel. But after Vishvaraj Singh asked for some clarifications, he didn’t receive any replies.
Mahendra Singh expressed dissent: “One set of panellists was invited and then the film was clandestinely shown to another set.”
“The impression being given is that the panellists who have seen the film are in agreement with the movie being released with the above stated modifications. It is, however, reliably learnt that none of the panellists is in agreement with the film,” he said, adding that “there has already been an adverse impact that is likely to increase should the movie be released”.
“Padmavati”, which was to release on December 1, has been embroiled in controversy over alleged distortion of facts regarding Rajput history, with Rajput outfits and some backed by the BJP, actively protesting its release.
Bhansali, who even appeared before a parliamentary committee to clarify his stance, has maintained that all the controversy over the film is based on rumours.
“I have not distorted facts. The film is based on a poem by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, referring to the 16th century Indian sufi poet’s epic poem “Padmavat”.
Mahendra Singh reiterated his son’s concern that “cosmetic changes like the proposed change in name will not change the fact that that the movie refers to real places, my ancestors and other persons in history with their names continuing to remain the same”.
“Contrary to all civilised conduct, the CBFC by suggesting such changes has reduced itself to endorsing the propagation of fiction about heroic personalities and living families,” he said, adding that the “invitation to/appointment of both panels was just a sham”.