×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Black Panther Production Design

    Netflix Isn't Killing Movie Theaters, Study Shows

    Netflix isn’t killing movie theaters. At least, that’s the take-away from a new study conducted by EY’s Quantitative Economics and Statistics group, which finds that people who go to movies in theaters more frequently also consume more streaming content. That flies in the face of the “conventional wisdom” of box office sages, who grimly ascribe [...]

  • 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Weaves Inclusive

    The Secret Power of 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Is Inclusion

    In a year that gave us films like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” this weekend’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” delivers one more home run for underrepresented groups in media in 2018. An animated film that takes advantage of Sony’s piece of the Marvel pie, “Spider-Verse” not only puts a mixed-race, middle-class teenager in the [...]

  • Jeff BridgesJeff Bridges, who stars in

    Jeff Bridges to Receive Cecil B. DeMille Award at 2019 Golden Globes

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced that Jeff Bridges will receive the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 76th Golden Globes on Jan. 6, 2019. Bridges has starred in films like “The Big Lebowski,” “Crazy Heart,” “True Grit,” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is delighted to bestow the 2019 [...]

  • Charlotte Rampling Euphoria

    Berlin Film Festival: Charlotte Rampling to Receive Honorary Golden Bear

    Oscar-nominated actress Charlotte Rampling, whose career has spanned more than 100 film and television roles, will be honored with a special Golden Bear at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival. The fest will also pay homage to Rampling by screening a selection of her work, including Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict” (1982), Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool” (2003) [...]

  • The Sisters Brothers

    France's Lumieres Awards Unveil Nominations

    Jacques Audiard’s “The Sisters Brothers” has been nominated for best film and director at the 24th Lumieres Awards, France’s equivalent of the Golden Globes. The Western starring Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Jake Gyllenhaal world-premiered at Venice Film Festival, where it earned Audiard a best director award. Produced by Paris-based company Why Not, “The [...]

  • CAA to Represent Peter Chan's We

    CAA to Represent Peter Chan's We Pictures

    Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has signed with We Pictures, the production and distribution company founded by Hong Kong-born director and producer Peter Chan Ho-sun. It aims to boost the company’s footprint both in China and abroad. Within China, CAA China will help We Pictures to develop new business partnerships and find new sources of investment [...]

  • Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley to Receive

    'Carol' Producers Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley to Be Honored by BAFTA

    Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley, the producers of such films as “Carol,” “Their Finest” and the recent “Colette” starring Keira Knightley, will receive the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award at the BAFTA Film Awards. The prolific pair run Number 9 Films and have a long list of credits. They will pick up their accolade at [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content