As first reported in mid-day, Padmaavat makers cite Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan as precedent to overturn state governments’ ban
Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor in a still from Padmaavat
It was a victory of freedom of expression as the Supreme Court yesterday cleared Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat for release, by staying the ban imposed by the governments of several states including Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, the bench said it is the duty of states to maintain law and order and that the creative content is an inseparable aspect of Article 19 (1), freedom of speech and expression.
As told to mid-day (January 18 edition), the producers’ counsel cited the example of Prakash Jha’s caste-reservation drama Aarakshan (2011), which was banned in certain states until the SC overturned the decision. Using that as precedent, the legal team argued that once the Censor Board has certified a movie, no state can ban it. It also argued that the makers had complied with the changes recommended by the Censor Board.
For an industry that largely shied away from commenting on the Padmaavat issue through Bhansali’s months-long battle, it welcomed the SC decision with open arms. Shabana Azmi, one of the few actors to initiate a petition asking PM Narendra Modi to offer protection to Deepika Padukone, said, “I welcome the decision. But there remains the unresolved matter of no action being taken against those who placed a bounty on Deepika’s head. Immediate action needs to be taken against these criminal elements so as to send out a clear signal to the country that the dignity of women is supreme and neither abusive language nor violent threats will go unpunished.”
Director Hansal Mehta reiterated how the banning of a film that has been cleared by the CBFC in the first place, is unconstitutional. “It’s a good sign that the Supreme Court has upheld the decision. The entire team of Padmaavat can heave a sigh of relief.”
Raza Murad, who plays Jalaluddin Khilji in the magnum opus, described it as a “victory of democracy.” “I think true change can be brought about when the government deals with people who create nuisance with an iron hand.”
With inputs from Bharati Dubey
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