Several film bodies today came out in support of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati and questioned the government’s silence on threats by Rajput groups against the release of the film.
The Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) along with Cine and TV Artists Association (CINTAA), Western India Cinematographers Association (WICA), Screenwriters Association (SWA), Association of Cine and Television Art Directors and Costume Designers (ACTADCD), backed Bhansali at a press conference in Mumbai.
Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra, who was present there, said an attack on Bhansali was an assault on creative freedom.
“Attack on Bhansali is an attack on freedom. This is very stifling. When it comes to the interpretation of history, you can disagree with him, but at least allow the film to release. By asking for a ban, you are creating an atmosphere where nobody will attempt films on Indian history,” Mishra said.
Bhansali has been facing trouble since he started shooting for the movie. The set of the movie was vandalised twice — in Jaipur and Kolhapur — and the director was roughed up by members of Karni Sena during the Jaipur schedule of the film earlier this year.
Rajput groups and some BJP members have accused Bhansali of distorting facts in the movie, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh. The film is scheduled to be released on December 1.
At the press conference, actor Sushant Singh, general secretary of CINTAA, said the government should intervene at this point.
“Sanjay Leela Bhansali didn’t ask us to hold this conference… We all are frustrated, angry and upset. For how long will our fraternity members keep asking for freedom of expression to make films? Why do we need to fight for such a basic right all the time?,” Singh asked.
“My question is for the state and the Central government- why are you silent? People from your parties are openly threatening to burn theatres. I have the right to ask for an assurance from the government,” he added.
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, convenor of IFTDA, said the industry has been pushed to a point where they feel abused.
“We are hurt because we have been abused and accused. We are filmmakers, creative people and we don’t deserve this kind of treatment. Every now and then we see our makers being heckled. We work hard, we make films. Bhansali is a symbol and attack on him is like abusing the film fraternity,” he said.
Pandit said on November 16 there will be a silent protest outside the Film City gates here to support Bhansali.
“The entire film fraternity will come out at 11 AM. No shoot will be done from 4-4:15 PM as a symbolic support to Bhansali,” Pandit added.
He also said that the bodies will write letters to I&B minister Smriti Irani tomorrow and Union home minister Rajnath Singh.
Veteran actor and CINTAA President Vikram Gokhale, who worked with Bhansali in “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”, said the filmmaker is a responsible man and his vision should be trusted.
“I am against private censorship. I have worked with Bhansali, he is a responsible man. Even if he has made a mistake, you have a pen and media platforms to express your opinion. But vandalising sets, indulging in physical violence is extremely foolish,” Gokhale said.
Bhansali has already issued an appeal to clarify that there is no dream sequence between Deepika’s Padmavati and Ranveer’s Khilji as claimed by Rajput groups.