Jan 252018

Mumbai gives Rajasthan freedom of expression goals with peaceful screenings of Padmaavat; viewers back Bhansali’s vivid storytelling skills, are baffled by the controversy

Deepika Padukone
Deepika Padukone

A CENSOR Board clearance and two Supreme Court verdicts in its favour, yet Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat continued to face the wrath of fringe groups a day into its release. Although multiplexes in four states – Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa – refused to screen the film amidst the ongoing tension, Mumbai viewers turned up in abundance to support the Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh starrer.

Having witnessed Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s spectacle at paid previews held yesterday and early shows this morning, cinephiles have one message for protesting outfits — watch it before you speak!

Multiplex in Mumbai
Viewers who caught the first-day-first-show of Padmaavat this morning, exit R City Mall, in Ghatkopar. Pic/Sameer Markande

Mumbaikars attending the 8 am show at Ghatkopar’s R City Mall appeared baffled by the controversy. Parveen Ali Khan tells mid-day, “Films should be treated like films. I did not see anything in the movie that should offend anyone. The Rajputs are shown in good light.”

The controversial self-immolation scene (jauhar), too, did not seem to have been portrayed offensively, said another cine-goer, Sachin Benbanshi. “The jauhar scene only showed the sacrifice made by Rani Padmini. I don’t see a reason for controversy.”

Reiterating what Bhansali’s supporters have said ever since the outcry erupted in December 2017, college student Noor Khan, who watched the movie with friends, said, “People who caused controversy should watch the movie first. They will realise there is nothing in it that’s worth protesting over.

Having watched the film, I think the uproar caused isn’t justified.” The notion was backed by other moviegoers, including Khairun Shaikh and Vipin Tiwari. “I don’t want to comment on the controversy, but the movie was good. There is nothing offensive about any scene in the film,” says Shaikh.

Another city resident, Deepak Mishra, however, opines that had Bhansali merely portrayed historical facts instead of “showcasing a love angle at the beginning”, he could have avoided controversy.

While citizens suggested that the furor had little merit, Padmaavat attracted a fair share of criticism too. At 164-minutes, engineer Pratishtha Ram, a self-proclaimed cinephile, found the film “awfully slow”. “It’s overrated. It is visually gorgeous, but awfully slow. I found myself fidgeting with my phone throughout the first half. When the drama finally ensued, it was half-baked.”

Researcher Reshma Kadam appears to give words to our fears when she says, “Padmaavat will be a victim of its hype.” Having already grabbed eyeballs owing to the controversy, the film may find itself grappling to live up to expectations, she says. “The drama outside the theatre is more than that on screen.”

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