Talk Point: Threats to stop screening of films is not proper behavior in a civilised society

A file photo of Akhand Rajputana Sevasangh's protest against 'Padmavaat.' PTI Photo

The debate around the historical accuracy of fictional cinema like Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming film Padmavati raises critical questions, once again, about barring art for hurting ‘public sentiment’. Once approved by the censor board, must there be any other tests that movies need to pass? ThePrint asks a panel of experts:

Should concerns of a particular community come in the way of Padmavati’s release?

While the film is generating a lot of controversy for inaccurate portrayal of a Rajput queen, there is certainly no historical basis for the story of Padmavati itself. Alauddin Khilji, an expansionist who saw himself as the second Alexander, is not credited with a romantic disposition.

Rani Padmini herself, the daughter of the Simhala king, does not find mention prior to Malik Mohammad Jayasi ‘s Awadhi epic ‘Padmavati’, which was written two centuries later. Her image as an ideal woman is based on this poem.

Secondly, the film has not been released yet, we have no idea whether it contains a dream sequence or not. So, our outrage is premature. We seem to just prefer to believe rather than investigate.

Here are other sharp perspectives on the Padmavati controversy:

Shekhar Suman: film and television actor
Manvendra Singh:
R. S. Khangarot:
 senior historian and Principal, Agrawal PG College Jaipur
Vijay Tiwari: spokesperson, Vishwa Hindu Parishad
Samarth Mahajan: creative director, Kahaani Wale

I think communities, whether religious or cultural, should develop more tolerant attitudes. I have always advocated that we should not be so insecure about our icons, historical, religious or cultural. Perhaps the filmmaker should just add the disclaimer that it is a historical fiction where he has taken creative liberties.

Having said that I believe that once the censor board passes the film, we as citizens of India should respect it or show our protests through peaceful means.

Vandalisation of sets and theatres, threats to stop screening of films is not proper behavior in a civilized society; this brings no honour to the name we are trying to protect.

However, as a member of the community (which should include all of us) that values historical truths, I feel for films in the future. The censor board should perhaps draw proper guidelines of rigorous checks for inaccuracies for the making of historical films.

Rana Safvi is author of “Tales from the Quran and Hadith: Islam’s Greatest Stories – Retold for the Modern Reader”


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