NEW DELHI—The Supreme Court of India on Jan. 18 paved the way for an all-India release for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmaavat" on Jan. 25 by staying the operation of orders banning the release of the film by the Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana governments. The film industry hailed the decision.
Staying the "notifications and orders" banning the release of the controversial film by the three states, Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilklar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the remaining states will not ban the screening of the film.
Referring to its earlier judgement, the court said it was incumbent upon the state governments to ensure law and order.
The court order came on a plea by "Padmaavat" producers – Bhansali Productions and Viacom18 Motion Pictures – challenging the ban on the screening of the film by the three states that didn't want it to be screened over alleged distortion of historical facts.
Rajput outfit Shree Rajput Karni Sena, which is at the forefront of the protests against the movie, has chalked out its next strategy.
A leader of the group told IANS that they will reach out to cinema hall owners across the country asking them not to show the movie or face consequences.
Film fraternity members Shyam Benegal, Manish Mundra, Madhur Bhandarkar and Ashoke Pandit were among those who lauded the Supreme Court decision.
Benegal told IANS that it's "quite clearly a victory of freedom of expression" while filmmaker Pandit said: "It's a very big success for the film industry."
"This judgement has broken the arrogance of the political parties who banned the film thinking they can do it," Pandit told IANS.
Producer Mundra tweeted: "Banning the film 'Padmaavat' even after CBFC certification was a cowardly act by the states. Were trying to do vote bank politics and or shying away from their responsibilities of managing law and order."
Trade expert Komal Nahta said the judgment was "a tight slap on the faces of the states which banned the film." "Red letter day ... the film industry and lovers of cinema all over."
Actor Ayushmann Khurrana hailed it as the "best news of the day which restores faith in our democracy." Filmmaker Bhandarkar welcomed the decision for the movie, which features Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor.
Author Chetan Bhagat said it's a "great decision" as "every story can't be told how bullies want it."
Filmmaker Rohit Shetty hoped the movie gets a "great release."
"Padmaavat," which was earlier scheduled to release as "Padmavati" on Dec. 1, is hitting the screens after facing multiple hurdles.
Bhansali was first assaulted on the film's set in Jaipur last year, after which the film's set in Kolhapur was vandalized.
Rajput outfits and some groups backed by the BJP have been actively protesting its release, contending that it plays with Rajput pride – something that the makers have repeatedly denied.
Bhansali has said the film is inspired by 16th-century poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi's poem "Padmavat" and that it's a film Indians will be proud of.