×

Viacom’s ‘Padmaavat’ Opens in India Amid Violent Protests

After a prolonged battle, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s $30 million period epic “Padmaavat” opened across most of India on Thursday. The film’s release was accompanied by vandalism of malls and burning vehicles.

The violence erupted amid claims by Hindu hard-liners that the film distorts history. On Wednesday, a mobile phone video that went viral showed a bus full of schoolchildren being pelted with stones by “Padmaavat” protesters on the outskirts of Delhi. Many schools in the Indian capital decided not to open Thursday.

India’s Supreme Court overturned a ban on the film’s release by the state governments of Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Appeals against the high court’s decision were dismissed. The states contended that the film’s release would cause law and order issues, but the Supreme Court said it was the states’ duty to maintain peace.

Despite this, the Multiplex Association of India, a trade organization representing 75% of multiplex operators, advised its members in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa not to release the film until the situation calms down.

The film’s troubles began during its shoot when fringe groups belonging to the Hindu Rajput community claimed, sight unseen, that the film distorts history. The groups also railed against an alleged dream sequence in which Hindu queen Padmavati is wooed by Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji. Sets were repeatedly vandalized, and Bhansali and lead actress Deepika Padukone received death threats.

The release was deferred from Dec. 1, 2017, to Thursday. India’s Central Board of Film Certification changed the title from “Padmavati” to “Padmaavat,” after the fictitious Sufi poem on which the film is based, and ordered five cuts. Producers Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions complied. Paramount is distributing in a few international territories.

In the parts of India where it will enjoy an unfettered release, “Padmaavat” will have the benefit of a solo run because the release of Sony’s female-hygiene drama “Padman,” starring Akshay Kumar, has been postponed to Feb. 9. Friday is India’s Republic Day, a public holiday, thus creating a long weekend for “Padmaavat.”

Some commentators have suggested that the protests have a political agenda. They noted that violence has largely occurred in states governed by Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP, while opposition-held states have been largely calm. The film was approved for release in neighboring Muslim-majority Pakistan.

More Film

  • A Stranger on the Beach

    Anonymous Content Wins Film Rights to Michele Campbell's 'A Stranger on the Beach' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Anonymous Content has won the adaptive rights to the forthcoming Michele Campbell novel “A Stranger on the Beach.” In a competitive situation, Anonymous outbid multiple players for the thriller, which it will adapt for the big screen with in-house producers Alex Goldstone and Rosalie Swedlin. “Stranger” has been likened to sensual thrillers like “Fatal Attraction” [...]

  • Ridley Scott Matt Damon Ben Affleck

    Ridley Scott, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Team on Revenge Film 'The Last Duel'

    Ridley Scott looks to have his next directing job, as he has signed on to direct “The Last Duel” with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck attached to star. Damon, Affleck and Nicole Holofcener penned the script with Scott, Damon and Affleck all producing along with Scott’s producing partner Kevin Walsh. The project has been set [...]

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas Ed Asner Elliott

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ed Asner, Elliott Gould Seek SAG-AFTRA Board Seats

    Ed Asner, Elliott Gould and Jonathan Taylor Thomas are seeking SAG-AFTRA national board seats as members of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Asner is the former president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving two terms from 1981 to 1985, and winning five Emmys for his role as Lou Grant and two others [...]

  • Natalie Portman Thor Comic Con

    Comic-Con: Marvel 'Shock and Awe' Strategy Dominates Twitter Buzz

    Disney’s Marvel Studios handily won the hype trophy from this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego. Marvel Studios — which returned to the 2019 Comic-Con stage with a chock-full Phase 4 slate of announcements — dominated the discussion on Twitter out of the convention, capturing the biggest volume of buzz for nine of the top 10 [...]

  • Chris Rock - Netflix

    Chris Rock's 'Saw' Reboot Moves Up Five Months to May 2020

    Lionsgate has moved Chris Rock’s upcoming “Saw” reboot forward by five months to May 15, 2020, vacating the pre-Halloween date of Oct. 23, 2020. The studio indicated Monday that it decided to move the untitled “Saw” movie into the summer slot after seeing early footage from the set of the film currently shooting in Toronto. The move [...]

  • Peter Farrelly

    Peter Farrelly to Judge Sun Valley Film Festival's Film Lab Competition

    Sun Valley Film Festival has set “Green Book” director Peter Farrelly as the judge for the sixth annual Film Lab competition. The program, sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which is in its sixth year, selects one team of filmmakers to work with the festival to complete their film projects. The director and producer of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content