Bhansali was asked by MP panel why Padmavati was shown to select media groups

It was Padmavati’s day out in Parliament yesterday. In an unprecedented gesture, a film director was summoned to the Parliament on Thursday to explain himself on alleged distortion of history in his yet-to-be-released film, Padmavati.
Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali kept his date with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information & Technology in Delhi. The 30-member panel, headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur, had summoned the filmmaker earlier to defend himself against accusations of Rajput sentiments being hurt in his upcoming film, Padmavati.
At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Information and Technology, Bhansali was asked how did he initially announce December 1 as the release date of the film when it was only on November 11 that he had submitted the film to the Censor Board for certification. It is a well-known fact, Bhansali was told by panel members, that the CBFC takes 68 days to certify a film.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali reportedly had no response when questioned why he had shown the film to select media groups.
Other questions included
why he did nothing about correcting matters when the controversy erupted almost a year-and-a-half ago
had he promised the Karni Sena that he’d show them the film before release
how can he claim that the film has nothing to do with history when all characters and names seem to have been derived from history?
To most questions, Bhansali has sought to give a written response, for which he has been given two weeks’ time.
Speaking to India Today yesterday, Anurag Thakur said, “We have summoned Sanjay Leela Bhansali to know why is there such a furore around his film? Why have some states banned the film even before its release? There are certain sections of society that believe the film has hurt sentiments.”
At the meeting that lasted two-and-a-half hours, Bhansali is reported to have told the members of Parliament that Padmavati is not a historical account, but is based on Malik Mohammad Jayasi’s epic poem, Padmavat, and hence the question of distortion of history doesn’t arise.
Two members of Parliament from Rajasthan, belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party, CP Joshi (Chittorgarh) and Om Birla (Kota) had earlier written to the Standing Committee on Petitions seeking a review of Padmavati in light of Rajput groups objecting to the depiction of history in the film. Both MPs are in fact members of the same committee.
Before the meeting yesterday, the Petitions Committee headed by BJP MP Bhagat Singh Koshiyari met in the Parliament Annexe. They had summoned Censor Board Chief Prasoon Joshi and officials of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Joshi told the panel that he hasn’t watched the film but the certification process is following its due course, which includes going through the regional and then the central committee. He said the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) will seek expert opinion too.
In the meeting, Om Birla and CP Joshi sought a ban on Padmavati, which was supported by their NDA partner, Rajan Vichare of the Shiv Sena. It is learnt that Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi opposed this demand before the CBFC takes a call.
Meanwhile the ball is still in the CBFC’s court. Prasoon Joshi told both panels yesterday that the CBFC will be forming an expert committee to review the historical aspects of the film.
The question still is why is the Parliament intervening in a matter that is firmly the CBFC’s to decide? And if it does have the authority, can the CBFC’s word eventually be overridden too?