Sanjay Leela Bhansali is facing flak for being true to his art and cinema and that itself is one harsh reality of today. His film Padmavati is courting a new controversy every day and we are still thinking how threatened our freedom of speech and expression is in India.
Veteran lyricist Javed Akhtar and filmmaker Karan Johar have come out in support of Sanjay Leela Bhansali as he faces trouble ahead of the release of his magnum opus Padmavati, saying films are just a mode of expression and they should not be misinterpreted as history.
Various groups, most of them from the Rajput community, have accused Bhansali of “distorting” historical facts in the film which features Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh.
During a session in the capital, Akhtar was asked about the controversy surrounding the movie, and the lyricist said,
“I was listening to a history professor on TV who said that there is a difference of 200-250 years between Khiljis rule and the writing of Padmavat. There was no mention of Padmavati before Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote the Padmavat. A lot of history has been written about that time. There are a lot of records available of that time but there is no mention of Padmavati in them.”
Citing the example of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodha Akbar, Akhtar said as per the history Akbar never had a wife by the name of Jodha Bai and people should not confuse a work of fiction with history.
“Stories get created. Don’t misinterpret films for history and history for films. You watch cinema and enjoy it. If you are interested in history, then read it seriously,” he added.
Johar, whose last directorial venture Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan and Imran Abbas, had a hard time in getting a smooth release, was also present at the event.
The filmmaker said he respects Bhansali’s vision and the fact that his “beautiful film” is caught up in the controversy makes him feel bad. Karan Johar said,
“I have faced a lot of controversies before the release of a film. I feel bad for a filmmaker, who is one of the best in the country. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has made a beautiful film and I hope he is protected by the people who understand that creativity is a form of expression. He has himself said that he has made a film which is true to the story and there is nothing in it that might hurt the sentiments and sensibilities of people. I think we should trust and believe him and give this film all the love.”
Padmavati, which is scheduled to release on December 1 has been facing a lot of trouble since early this year. Bhansali was assaulted by activists of a Rajput community group, Karni Sena, while shooting in Jaipur.
The group has been constantly seeking ban on the release of the film, which they claim is distorting the history.