“Padmavati” has yet to be seen by the public, but the Bollywood epic has already proven to be the most controversial film of the year. Due to a dream sequence that extremist groups claim includes a romantic moment between a Muslim sultan and Hindu queen, an Indian politician has called for the beheading of actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay leela Bhansali — and offered a $1.5 million bounty for anyone who does so.
Now, the group Karni Sena has threatened to burn down any British movie theater that plays “Padmavati.” Making the situation even more out-there is the fact that Bhansali denies that the offending scene even exists. Padukone, for her part, has refused to be afraid: “I feel angry, I feel let down and I also find it amusing,” she has said. “I will never feel scared. Fear is not an emotion I have ever identified with.”
Viacom18 has indefinitely delayed the film’s scheduled release in India, and Paramount, which owns the international distribution rights, may follow suit. According to news reports, a body was found hanging near the film’s shooting location on Friday with “Padmavati” and “We don’t burn effigies, we hang” etched into a rock.
Viacom18 released the following statement:
“Viacom18 Motion Pictures, the studio behind ‘Padmavati’ has voluntarily deferred the release date of the film from December 1st 2017. Along with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, amongst the most gifted film makers of his generation, Viacom18 Motion Pictures has created a beautiful cinematic masterpiece in ‘Padmavati’ that captures Rajput valor, dignity and tradition in all its glory. The film is an eloquent portrayal of a tale that will fill every Indian with pride and showcase our country’s story-telling prowess across the globe. We are a responsible, law-abiding corporate citizen and have the highest respect and regard for the law of the land and all our institutions and statutory bodies including the Central Board of Film Certification. We always have and are committed to continue following the established procedure and convention. We have faith that we will soon obtain the requisite clearances to release the film.”