CBFC Chief Prasoon Joshi hits out after select screenings says Padmavati makers trying to subvert the process

Chairman of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Prasoon Joshi has criticised the producers of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmavati’ for holding a select screening of the film before the CBFC certified the film. He called the screening, held for a few journalists, as an “irresponsible way of pressurising” the board. Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, Padmavati has been facing protests from the fringe which claims — without watching the film — that it distorts history and hurts sentiments of the people. CBFC had earlier returned the film’s application citing technical reasons.

“Disappointing that the film Padmavati is being screened for the media and getting reviewed on national channels without CBFC having seen or certified the Film. This compromises the role of systems and balances that are part of a functioning industry. It’s myopic to treat the certification process haphazardly to suit convenience,” Joshi said.

“On one hand, holding the CBFC responsible and pressurising to accelerate the process and on the other hand, attempt to subvert the very process sets an opportunistic precedent. In this specific, case, the film’s application came up this week only for review. The makers know and admit that the paperwork is not complete – the very disclaimer whether the film is work of fiction or a historical was left blank and not stated – and on simply and legitimately being asked to provide important documents, target the CBFC for “looking the other way and delay”. This truly is surprising,” he added.

He was referring to a tweet by Ajit Andhare, chief operating officer, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, in which he said, “What an irony, those who are supposed to watch are looking the other way and we have to run around and show it at other forums to ‘clear’ it.”

The CBFC returned Padmavati’s application on Friday saying it was “incomplete” stating, “The film was submitted for certification last week. We examined the documents, as we normally do. It was conveyed to the makers that their application was incomplete. They had to rectify and send it back, we will view it when it comes back to us.”

On Friday, a ‘private screening’ was held for select media persons and journalists Rajat Sharma and Arnab Goswami have said the film upholds Rajput pride. “Bhansali has not distorted history at all. The story of Ratan Singh and Rani Padmavati has been shown exactly as we heard and read this story in our childhood,” Sharma said on his show.

The film’s makers also signaled that they are ready to have screenings for “responsible individuals. “Can screen to responsible individuals who feel aggrieved. Please come, see it yourself, nothing to hide, put an end to this saga. Let’s celebrate our heritage. We can do it tomorrow itself, we want them to stand with us support the film it celebrates Rajput pride. We have been saying from the beginning Film just finished a few days back,” Ajit Andhare, chief operating officer, Viacom18 Motion Pictures tweeted.

The film is slated to hit theatres on December 1.