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No ban on 'Padmaavat', SC clears pan-India Jan 25 release

New Delhi

23-January-2018

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the decks for the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmaavat" on Thursday. Amid unending protests, however, many cinema hall owners are not keen on screening the epic drama.

The apex court asked all states to comply with its order not to stand in the way of the controversial film, quashing last ditch efforts by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh governments to block its release.

The Shri Rajput Karni Sena, at the forefront of the protests, was unhappy.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said: "People must understand that the Supreme Court has passed an order and it must be complied with.

"You can advise them not to watch the movie if they don't like it. We will not modify our order," Misra told Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who tried to flag the law and order situation as a ground for blocking the film's release.

"Padmaavat", featuring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, is Bhansali's take on 16th century Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi's epic poem "Padmavat".

However, some Rajput outfits claim it does not portray the community's history correctly.

Protests were on in parts of Rajasthan but its Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said he will focus on maintaining law and order to ensure a "safe" release of the movie. 

Police said they will ensure there was no untoward incident and keep a close eye on the Karni Sena chief.

According to a Karni Sena official, cinema hall owners in Rajasthan and Gujarat have given a written statement saying they will not release the movie while those in Punjab and Haryana have given a verbal assurance.

In Uttar Pradesh, some people protested in Barabanki by burning posters and an effigy of Bhansali. Activists set on fire a bus near a hall besides vandalising some public property in Allahabad. There were protests in Agra, Hathras and the state's western region.

An official told IANS that the state government would respect the apex court directives. Cinema owners in Lucknow have sought police security to ensure peaceful screening of the movie though they refused to come on record.

In Haryana, the police deployed armed security around cinema halls and multiplexes. Because of threats from protesters, some cinema hall and multiplex owners are not keen on screening the movie.

In Gujarat, Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said all cinema owners had decided not to release the film though police had assured them security.

A spokesperson for PVR Cinemas in Ahmedabad said they were not screening the movie in the state.

Madhya Pradesh Law and Legislative Affairs Minister Rampal Singh has said they will look for a way to respect the Supreme Court's order without hurting public sentiments.

In Delhi, advance bookings were open were attracting a good response, said capital-based distributor Joginder Mahajan.

"There is a little risk but cinema halls have no alternate plan as 'Padmaavat' is a solo release. Some single screen theatres have a little fear but multiplexes will be going ahead with the movie," Mahajan told IANS.

It has been a long battle for the filmmakers.

From being assaulted on the film's set in Jaipur to his set being vandalised in Kolhapur to getting threats from detractors, Bhansali has been facing Rajput ire since the inception of "Padmaavat", originally titled "Padmavati".

Bhansali Productions and Viacom18 Motion Pictures, its producers, have maintained it's "an ode to the famed valour, legacy and courage of Rajputs".- IANS