Denouncing the protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's upcoming film Padmavati, various organisations associated with the Bengali film fraternity called for a ‘15-minute blackout’ in the entire industry on Tuesday afternoon. There will be a complete halt in work in the Bengali film industry from 12 noon to 12.15 pm in every studio and across all the shooting locations in West Bengal as a mark of protest, National Award winning Bengali filmmaker Goutam Ghosh and Bengali film superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee said at a press meet. The Eastern India Motion Picture Directors Association, the Artist Forum and the Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers, producer Shrikant Mohta and other heavyweights of the industry were also present at the press meet. On Sunday, Indian Films & Television Directors' Association (IFTDA)'s president, Ashok Pandit called for a 15-minute tools-down for the entire Indian film industry opposing the escalated Padmavati protests.
"It is true that in a democratic country, there should be voices of dissent and debate. We welcome the debate about Padmavati. But the debate should start after the release of the film," the director of critically acclaimed Bengali film Moner Manush clarified. "It is important that we find out why this is happening. This has no logic. Let us first see the film. There is a censor board to take care of things," he added.
The members of the film fraternity also criticised BJP leader Surajpal Amu's comments against state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for welcoming the film in Bengal. "In West Bengal, our Chief Minister has taken a different stand. She has invited the Padmavati unit to release the film here. And now, bad things are being said against her. Where are we heading with all this? It seems we have gone back to the medieval ages," Ghosh asked.
"There have been so many interpretations of Rajasthan's history in works of art. Can you muzzle art? Judging the contents of a film is within the purview of the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification), not certain groups," Ghosh said.
Chatterjee added that with the call for a blackout, the Bengali film industry wanted to convey the message that the entire film fraternity stood for creative freedom. "Do these protests (against Padmavati) indicate that the directors will not enjoy a creative freedom while making films? Certain states are banning "Padmavati" without even knowing what its contents are. Will the directors be required to get their scripts endorsed by certain individuals from now on, even before sending the film to the CBFC for a preview?" the superstar wondered.Many Rajput groups have been up in arms against Bhansali's film, which features Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in the lead roles, alleging that it distorts history. As a result, the makers of the film have already deferred its release from 1 December until further notice.