The Gujarat High Court recently refused to entertain a writ petition filed by one Rajendrasingh Shekhavat who sought a stay on the release of the film Padmavati, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
A bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice Vipul M Pancholi accepted the submissions made on behalf of the makers of the film and dismissed the petition.
The petitioner, Shekhavat, is the president of Shri Rajput Rashtriya Karni Sena, which forcefully stopped shooting of the film in Jaipur. The petition refers to ‘Padmavat’, an Awadhi poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540 CE, wherein it is noted that Alauddin Khalji led an invasion on Chittor with the motive to capture Rani Padmini, who was the wife of Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, Rajput ruler of Mewar.
The petition further stated that in the poem it is chronicled how Rani Padmini, along with other women of the fort, committed Jauhar (mass self-immolation) in order to protect her honour.
According to the petitioner, the film distorts historical facts and shows Rani Padmini in a negative light and glorifies the character of Alauddin Khalji, which hurts the sentiments of the Rajput community.
Therefore, the petitioner sought constitution of a commission of historians, Rajput leaders, writers and film-makers to view the film and submit a report before the court, until then a stay on the release was prayed for.
However, Mihir Thakur appearing for Bhansali Productions argued that the petition was premature since the film has not even been submitted before the Central Board of Film Certification. Section 5B of the Cinematograph Act provides guidelines to be followed by the CBFC while certifying films which also deals with law and order.
A statement was made on behalf of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali that the film does not contain any intimate scene between the characters Khalji and Padmavati, and does not show her to be captive by Khalji. His counsel, therefore, submitted that petition should not be entertained and was liable to be dismissed.
After hearing both parties, the division bench observed that the present subject matter was within the purview of CBFC that will examine the film when application is made in this regard. It further noted that in light of the statement made on behalf of Bhansali, the petition was not liable to be entertained at this stage and dismissed it.