Should Padmavati be screened? 

Should Padmavati be screened? 

Context

Different views are presented as to whether Padmavati be screened or not?

YES

Authenticity of Padmavati

Author states that for all we know, Padmini or Padmavati is a fictional character, created by the Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in the 16th century. While AlauddinKhilji’s siege of Chittor in 1303 is a historical event, the legend of Padmini has little historical evidence and most modern historians have rejected its authenticity

Judging even before viewing

Nobody except its maker or the scriptwriter knows what the film is about. How can passers-by decide that it should not be shown to the people?

Censor issues

  • Committee formed: A committee headed by ShivaramKaranth was formed in 1979 to advise the government on the film industry and how quality of films could be ensured
  • Author’s stance: Author who himself was a member of the above committee, alond with few other members, had decided that censor is a shame and should be done away with
  • Other’s view: Other members requested them to not to recommend scrapping of censorship as the censor certificate was what saved them whenever someone went to court against their big-budget films

No provision to ban

There is no provision for banning a film in the certification rules. The rules are only meant to classify films into various categories. We are now witnessing a furore over a film that has not been censored or seen by the people. This is a dangerous trend and cannot be permitted if we value the core principles of democracy

NO

Impact of myth

Author states that even if we consider it to be a myth, the story of Padmini has survived in literature and folklore, and has been received by people over centuries as a saga of courage. Socially speaking, such inspirations are beacons for society as it marches onwards

Freedom

  • Author states that voices demanding for an unrestricted freedom of expression suffer from a major contradiction. Do they allow the same unfettered freedom against themselves or fight for it consistently? We have examples of denial of freedom of expression to Salman Rushdie and TaslimaNasreen, who have been hounded for long for their views. How is it that Rushdie’s freedom is no freedom for these people while Sanjay LeelaBhansali’s is?
  • While resorting to the oft-repeated pretext of safeguarding ‘freedom of expression’, attempts are being made to deprive a community of its hitherto received cultural memory

Conclusion

Oral traditions, literature and folklore play an important role in the life of a community. Attempts to distort that understanding through a powerful medium like a film may hurt sensibilities, thus creating law and order problems. To ignore the profound impact traditions have on the life of the people may lead to avoidable disturbances and chaos

IT’S COMPLICATED

Intervention of social media

Until now our cinema has been seen as a space where screenwriters expressed their imaginations on-screen and the audience carried on their discussions/ debates in their independent private spaces off-screen

  • So far, this was seen under the aegis of a constitutional right called freedom of expression which was also concomitant with the freedom to agree/disagree or even offend. But the intervention of modern social media seems to have changed the entire scenario
  • It’s strange that a small outfit from Jaipur called KarniSena claiming they represent all Rajputs could manage to garner so much attention across India. They reach millions instantly through social media with their vitriolic statements

Questions need answering

It is more complicated than merely stating that the film should be released immediately. There are several questions that need to be answered

  • Why have historians not come out into the open and publicly stated that this controversy is baseless since there is no historical proof of Padmavati ever having existed?
  • Or have we, as Indian citizens, actually accepted myths, legends and folktales as lawful historical references?
  • Why is Prasoon Joshi, our Censor Board chief, the lyricist who wrote all the rebellious songs for Rang De Basanti, keeping quiet?
  • When the nation has not cared to include filmmaking as a valid industrial/academic activity, how does one expect people to acknowledge cinema as a fine art?

Film-making: Not so respectable

Author states that film-making is still not considered a cultured or respectable art form. To change that,

  • Film studies should be included as part of school curriculum. IITs and engineering colleges should include film technology as a specialised vocational pursuit. That is the only way to make this profession of filmmaking respectable
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