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CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi on Padmavati row: The situation has not been created by the CBFC but you’re expecting a solution from it

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Opening up at length on the row surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, lyricist Prasoon Joshi, the Central Board of Film Certification chief, says that considering the current situation of the film, it might take as long as 68 days to certify the epic. Padmavati was initially supposed to release on December 1, but following protests against the film by various political and fringe groups across the country as well as the CBFC’s decision to send the movie back to the makers citing “incomplete formalities”, the producers voluntarily deferred the release date. There has been no confirmation on the new date as of yet.

Prasoon Joshi’s comments only increase the uncertainty on the delay that Bhansali’s film will have to face before it arrives in theatres. His remarks seem to confirm multiple media reports that suggested that the censor board rejected the producers’ plea to quicken the certification process.

Prasoon addressed the controversy on Monday evening on the red carpet of the ongoing International Film Festival of India. The CBFC chief expressed his disappointment with the Padmavati makers for showing the film to a few media persons before submitting it to the censor board. Joshi said that if people want the censor board to take a call on the movie, they need to give the body the required “time, space and mental space” to operate.

“It can take 68 days because you have to understand the time that many committees might be formed (to come to a decision) so it can take time. Generally, films take less than that but here the case is such. Is CBFC to be blamed that people are on roads to protest? If makers go ahead and show the film to press, has that done by CBFC? But you want CBFC to take a well thought out decision. How will it take a decision if you are not giving it space and the time? Generally, CBFC clears the film before 68 days but it mentions the time that it will take when the situation is such. This is not something new. I am from the film fraternity so I understand makers, I understand Sanjay Leela Bhansali but it is not about him, it is about the controversy surrounding the film,” said Joshi.

Further, he said that he “condemned any kind of violence,” in an apparent reference to the death-threats to Bhansali and the film’s lead actor, Deepika Padukone. But the censor board head also said that while taking a decision on the film, he will take into consideration everything, including “creativity and various sections of the society.”

“The time is less for controversies but more to think and for that, we need to maintain patience and we need to get rid of anxiety. Until that’s removed you are being unfair with CBFC and not giving time to it. The situation has not been created by the CBFC but you are expecting a solution from it. When you are doing that, give them the time-space and mental space to take that decision.

“For that, I urge everyone who is associated with films, I condemn any kind of violence but I respect sentiments, I respect filmmakers, creativity. I respect various sections in the society. We need to take all of them into consideration while taking a decision, which we all can be proud of,” he said.

Towards the end, Prasoon Joshi said that the censor board wants to operate independently of any other aspect involved in the controversy around Padmavati. “CBFC wants to stay neutral. CBFC wants to follow its process. It has just been a week that the film submitted the application. Don’t rush into the decision.”