Sanjay Leela Bhansali's upcoming film Padmavati that ran into trouble with Rajput Karni Sena and other fringe groups may be delayed beyond December 1 when it was expected to be released. The Central Board of Film Certification, popularly called the censor board, has told the film's producers that its application had been found to be "incomplete".
Once the deficiency in the application is removed, it would be scrutinized again, said a censor board source, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
The film was submitted for the censor board's approval last Friday.
According to board's norms, the censor board can take 61 days for a decision on a film's certification. Sources suggested it would be difficult for the producers to stick to their 1 December schedule if the board strictly abides by the norms.
For now, there is no hint that the board intends to fast-track the formalities.
"When it comes back to us we will put it in queue and see when the turn comes, there will be no exception," the censor board source said.
The film is based on the legendary 13th century queen Padmini of Chittor and critics, mostly Rajput groups, say Padmavati wrongly implies a romantic relationship between the queen and Emperor Alauddin Khilji, the all-powerful Delhi Sultan. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has repeatedly denied the allegation and recently released a video clarifying that his film does not distort history.
But it is a sentiment that has found resonance among the politically crucial Rajput community in Rajasthan and beyond, right from the time shooting started. That is when the sets of the film - which has Deepika Padukone, Ranvir Singh, Shahid Kapoor in the leading roles - was vandalised first in Jaipur.
After many protests in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and Karnataka as well, a leader of Karni Sena, which has been at the forefront of the agitation to seek a ban on the movie yesterday, also threatened Deepika Padukone with physical harm.
"Rajputs never raise a hand on women but if need be, we will do to Deepika what Lakshman did to Shurpanakha," said Mahipal Singh Makrana, referring to the act of cutting the nose off. The threat prompted Mumbai police to scale up the security to Deepika Padukone.
News of the film getting caught up in formalities at the censor board came as the Karni Sena threatened to intensify its agitation against the movie as the release date approaches. Already, they forced shut the entrance to the Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan's Chittorgarh district today and called for a nation-wide strike on December 1 to coincide with the film's scheduled release.
Union Minister Uma Bharti had disapproved of threats targeting Deepika Padukone but appealed to the actors in the movie to steer clear of the controversy.
"The director and his associate as the scriptwriter of #Padmavati are responsible for its story. They should have taken care of the sentiments and the historical facts," she tweeted yesterday, expressing confidence that the censor board would clear the film "taking the sentiments of people into consideration".
Ajit Andhare, COO, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, confirmed the Censor Board's communication but stressed this was "merely a minor technical issue"