Prakash Jha has said the protest against the upcoming film “Padmavati” is not a new phenomenon and stressed that in a democracy such as India, people have the right to dissent. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed magnum opus has been in trouble since January with community organisations accusing the filmmaker of “distorting historical facts” and many demanding a ban on the film. Featuring Deepika Padukone in the title role of Rani Padmavati, with Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji, the movie is slated to arrive in theatres on December 1. Jha said objections raised by the groups for allegedly deviating from the facts were a part and parcel of the game. “There is no harm in people speaking up. It has always been the case. You may not like so many things of mine but you don’t want me to go or eliminate me. But it is not a new phenomenon. It always happens. “In this country, no matter which party is in power, if you try making a film which they think may go against the government, you may face problems,” he told reporters here.
Jha was speaking at a press meet on the sidelines of the 23rd Kolkata International Film Festival. A number of BJP leaders, including a member of the erstwhile royal family of Jaipur, Diya Kumari, and CBFC member Arjun Gupta have called for a stay on “Padmavati” through the Censor Board. Jha, who has always been against censorship, said the board has “the power to do anything”. “While they talk about certain issues on freedom when in the Opposition, the moment they come to power, everything changes. It is not in the hands of the film industry to set the guidelines. They have to be set by society, by the people,” he added.
Recently, through a video statement, Bhansali again sought to clear the air surrounding the film, saying rumours about a romantic dream sequence between Padmavati and Khilji’s characters were false. The under-attack director said he was careful in depicting the “Rajput honour and dignity” in the film, which was his tribute to the brave community. On November 10, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea seeking a stay on the release of “Padmavati”, saying the CBFC considers all aspects before granting a certificate to any film.