'Padmavati' row 'dangerous'in the foreign film world's eyes

“Artistes face this kind of situations because of the talent and desire they have,” says Majidi, an Iranian filmmaker.

Padmavati row dangerousin the foreign film worlds eyes

Panaji: They don't know fact from fiction about fabled Rajput queen Padmavati, but the uproar over Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati has made visiting international movie talent here sit up and take note of how "autocratic" and "dangerous" voices and actions are infringing on freedom of expression in India's film industry.

Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) artistic director Cameron Bailey, who were at the just-concluded 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), were vocal in their support for Bhansali.
"Artistes face this kind of situations because of the talent and desire they have. That extends to filmmakers too. They should not stop innovation in their work because of adverse conditions," Majidi said on the opening day of the festival.
He was among a string of artistes and filmmakers who visited IFFI, which itself was caught in a controversy over the exclusion of two films – S. Durga and Nude – from its Indian Panorama section. The brouhaha over these and Padmavati – which is under attack for alleged distortion of facts – became a crucial talking point throughout the fest.
Michael J. Werner, a film and media strategic consultant who attended the Film Bazaar here, told: "I think it is a dangerous trend because you shouldn't have a government dictating history. What is happening with this particular movie ('Padmavati') seems to be a minister or a department or a state saying that we don't accept that representation of history.
"I don't know whether it is factual or not, but it is still a kind of an autocratic response."
Padmavati, which sets out to tell the tale of the valour and courage of Rani Padmavati, whose historicity is in doubt, has been under the scanner since its shoot began. Its National Award-winning director was assaulted and the set vandalised in Jaipur by Rajput organisation Karni Sena over the conjecture that the movie will feature intimate scenes between the characters of Padmavati and the invader Alauddin Khilji.
Thereafter, the Karni Sena has continued its protest and has been intense in its effort to stall the film's release, which has been deferred from its original December 1 date as of now.
There were threats to burn down theatres if the film was released and a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader announced a reward of Rs 10 crore for beheading Bhansali and the movie's lead actor, Deepika Padukone.
In the midst of this, Padmavati got a go-ahead from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) for release. But the makers are waiting for a decision by India's censor board.
French producer Ilann Girard feels a film shouldn't be held hostage by any conflict.
"I have been watching things on television and asking my Indian friends about the situation. I understand it touches some cultural element about a female character who is seen as a very important symbolic figure for Hindus," Girard, Managing Director of Online Film Financing (OLFI), told.
Girard, who was visiting India for the third time, didn't want to pass any judgment as it's an "Indian topic", but said: "My perception is that film and the cultural industry should not be taken hostage of the conflicts."
TIFF's Bailey said people must wait for censor clearance before drawing assumptions and conclusions.
"One of the small mercies with censor authorities is that they actually do watch the film before they pass judgment. So one hopes that anyone who hears about a film that they think that they
might have an objection to, should first watch the film," Bailey told in an interview.
Bailey feels the film should be given a "benefit of doubt before passing judgment".
"We can all have differences of opinion with any art form, but I think we live in a better world where we wait to actually see what the film is before we pass judgment. Also, we accept that other
people have different responses to that. What I might not like to see on-screen, some others might. That doesn't mean I should prevent that person from seeing it."
As dark clouds still loom over the future of "Padmavati", Ana Tiwary, a Sydney-based producer-director of Indivisual Films, hopes the controversy will die down soon.IANS



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