The producers of Bollywood film Padmavati on Sunday announced it had “voluntarily deferred the release date of the film” from December 1, 2017.
The decision comes as protests against the Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed film intensified over the alleged “distortion of history.” The producer, Viacom 18, did not say when the historical drama will be released.
The film also stars actors Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh. Many extremist groups have offered rewards for killing Bhansali and Padukone, while the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, the caste group leading the protests against the film, has threatened to chop off Padukone’s nose.
On Friday, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) returned Viacom’s application for clearance for the film, triggering speculation that its release might be pushed back to next year.
CBFC chairman Prasoon Joshi said the film application came up this week only for review, while the paperwork was not complete. He said the disclaimer whether the film is work of fiction or historical was left blank and not stated, and instead accused that the filmmakers were targeting them for ‘looking the other way and delay’.
Karni Sena founder-patron Lokendra Singh Kalvi told reporters that the filmmakers had unilaterally postponed its release without taking the group into confidence. He said Bhansali promised to show them the film but instead deferred the release after screening to a small group of unknown people.
Protests continued in Rajasthan against the film on Sunday in several towns with Rajput women holding swords joining the agitation. In Kolkata, a group with “saffron headbands and flags” held a protest outside a cinema hall where the movie was scheduled to be released next week.
The Uttar Pradesh government, led by firebrand Yogi Adityanath, has said it anticipates law and order disruption upon the film’s release. In Gujarat, the ruling BJP has asked to defer the release of the film till after local elections are held next month.
— Viacom18 (@viacom18) November 19, 2017
In a statement, Viacom said on Sunday, “We are a responsible, law-abiding corporate citizen and have the highest respect and regard for the law of the land and all our institutions and statutory bodies including the Central Board of Film Certification… We have faith that we will soon obtain the requisite clearances to release the film. We will announce the revised release date of the film in due course.”
It added, “Along with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, amongst the most gifted filmmakers of his generation, Viacom18 Motion Pictures has created a beautiful cinematic masterpiece in Padmavati that captures Rajput valour, dignity and tradition in all its glory. The film is an eloquent portrayal of a tale that will fill every Indian with pride and showcase our country’s story-telling prowess across the globe.”