Indian director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial period epic Padmavat has been granted a censor certificate and secured a release date on January 25.
Viacom18 Motion Pictures will release the film in India, while Paramount Pictures International is handling the international release.
The film, based on an epic poem about India’s Rajput kings, was originally scheduled to open globally on December 1, 2017. However, Viacom18 delayed the release when the religious controversy that had plagued the film since it was in production started to escalate.
Local religious groups, aligned with a warrior caste that traces its lineage back to the Rajput kings, claimed the film contained scenes that hurt religious and national sentiments. Some fringe members of the groups attacked the film’s sets when it was in production, and issued death threats for Bhansali and actress Deepika Padukone.
After delaying a decision, India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) finally gave the film a UA certificate last weekend after the filmmakers agreed to a set of conditions, including changing the title from Padmavati to Padmavat, aligning it closer to its source material.
The filmmakers also agreed to incorporate two disclaimers, at the beginning and after the interval, regarding certain historical characters and practices; changes to one song sequence featuring Padukone; and the removal of ‘misleading’ references to historical places.
According to Indian press reports, some Indian states that are key to the film’s success, including Rajasthan, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, are banning the film despite the CBFC certificate. The most vocal of the religious groups, Rajput Karni Sena, has called for a complete ban on the film.
The new release date means that the film will be opening ahead of India’s Republic Day holiday weekend, but it will go up against PadMan, starring Akshay Kumar and co-produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment and two Mumbai-based production houses.
Neeraj Pandey’s spy thriller Aiyaary, co-produced by Friday Filmworks and Reliance Entertainment, has had its release date pushed back from January 26 to February 9 to avoid clashing with the other two films.