Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Thursday faced a barrage of questions from a Parliamentary panel, which took stock of his controversial film ‘Padmavati’, reportedly based on the legend of Chittor’s Queen Padmini.The 30-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, led by Anurag Thakur, had asked Bhansali and censor board chief Prasoon Joshi to appear before it after the film attracted huge controversy.Fringe Rajput groups such as Karni Sena, aided by certain politicians, have accused Bhansali of distorting history by showing a romantic dance sequence between Queen Padmini and Delhi Sultanate king Alauddin Khilji. Bhansali, however, has refuted all these claims.Noting that a movie was meant for entertainment and not for creating a tensed atmosphere across the country, panel head Anurag Thakur raised the issue of why a huge amount of money of taxpayers was being utilised in this matter, and why the movie was being showcased to select media. At the time, even the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) was yet to see the film.The panel members asked Bhansali why his movies seemed to target communities and produce tension. They also asked whether creating a controversy was the new trend to sell movies and how could Bhansali assume that the movie could be released on December 1, when he applied for certification on November 11. As per the Cinematography Act, the CBFC has to take 68 days before certifying a movie.”Is selective media screening of the movie fair and ethical? Was it an act to influence the CBFC?” the panel members asked. Bhansali, sources said, clarified that the film was entirely based on Malik Mohammed Jayasi’s epic ‘Padmavat’ and he neither changed the context nor the facts.CBFC chief Joshi told the ad hoc Lok Sabha Committee on Petitions that the censor board cleared only the trailer and the promos of the period film. He later said he has not seen the film yet but would constitute an expert committee, which will see the film critically and decide if it can be screened as it is or with some cuts.The panel was yet to decide whether Thursday’s meeting satisfied their queries and will take a decision in a couple of weeks. Thereafter, it will submit a report of its findings to the Speaker’s office.
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Yogi Adityanath

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Parliamentary panel grills Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Prasoon Joshi