BOLLYWOOD: In the midst of a raging controversy over his film Padmavati, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali appeared before an Indian Parliamentary committee and maintained that the row over the yet-to-be released movie was based on rumours, strongly rejecting charges that he had distorted historical facts.
Bhansali was grilled for over two hours by members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology as he appeared in the Indian Parliament House with Prasoon Joshi, who heads the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
Sources said the filmmaker was asked why he had screened the movie for a few select journalists even before it was cleared by the censor board.
“All the controversy over the film is based on rumours. I have not distorted facts. The film is based on a poem by Malik Muhammad Jayasi,” Bhansali said, referring to the 16th century Indian sufi poet’s epic poem Padmavat.
“We don’t intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments,” Bhansali told the 30-member panel headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur. Among those who attended the meeting were Congress’ Raj Babbar and BJP patriarch L.K. Advani.
Thakur in a statement said he raised a few questions in view of the Padmavati controversy and got them addressed.
“How and why did this controversy erupt; why is a huge amount of money of taxpayers being utilised towards providing security in wake of this issue; why was the movie showcased to a select media, even before screening it to CBFC. A movie is meant for entertainment, not for creating a tensed atmosphere across the country. This meeting has been called upon to discuss all these issues at length, bring all the relevant stakeholders on a common platform to eventually reach a consensus,” Thakur stated.
The director has been given time until December 14 to provide a written reply to the panel about the movie and the controversy surrounding it.
Thakur said the media too played a role in creating a perception amongst the audience, referring to death threats against Deepika Padukone who is playing the title role of the 16th century Rajput queen. The cases registered against the people who issued inflammatory statements by the respective state governments was not played up by the media. This at times leads to forming a negative mindset amongst the audience, he noted.