The censor board has asked the erstwhile Mewar royal family to join a panel to help it certify Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmavati, that has stoked Rajput anger for allegedly portraying the queen in “poor light”.
Prasoon Joshi, the chief of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), called Vishvaraj Singh of the Mewar royal family on Thursday with the request.
Singh told HT on Friday that he has written to the CBFC seeking clarifications on certain aspects of the film that stars Deepika Padukone as queen Padmini, considered by Rajputs as a symbol of the community’s tradition of putting honour above everything else.
A section of historians, however, doubt the existence of the queen and say she is a fictional character first portrayed in a 16th-century poem as having committed jauhar, the medieval practice in which female royals walked into funeral fires to embrace death over the dishonour of being taken captive.
Rajput groups had staged violent protests, allegedly over rumours that Bhansali included a romantic scene between the queen and Allauddin Khilji, the Delhi emperor who attacked Mewar’s capital Chittorgarh.
Vishvaraj Singh said he has written a letter to Joshi saying he will be able to accept or decline the offer only after some clarifications.
Singh said he had written to the CBFC chief on November 11 and December 1 on the email ID mentioned of the board’s website to raise objections to the film. “The emails were not acknowledged or replied to,” Singh wrote.
In his latest letter, Singh said there was confusion over the genre of the film.
“It has been reported to be a fantasy at some place and historical at others. We need clarity on under what genre the film is seeking certification,” he said.
“The reported involvement of historians in the process of certification so far establishes that the film is of historical relevance,” he added.
CBFC sources said that film was once sent back to the producers after it was found that the column for stating whether it was a work of fiction or was based on historical facts was left blank.
“The film has used the name of my family’s respected ancestors and events that have taken place in history. It is not just the story but the depiction of characters that is of great importance. The song and promos released make it apparent that all claims of the filmmaker of giving due regard to cultural sensitivities ring hollow,” Singh has written.
Singh said his family has not given permission for this film and was never consulted or informed “even as a matter ordinary courtesy” that such a film was being made on this large a scale.
The former Mewar royal also sought to know the nature of the functioning of the committee and whether its findings will be advisory or binding.
“The exercise of appointing a committee and the process of certification appears to be aimed at somehow lending credibility to a film, the released portions of which are found to be seriously objectionable by the very persons whose history and culture the film claims to show case,” he added.