The Akshay Kumar starrer "Pad Man" has postponed its release date from January 25 to February 9, paving the way for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s "Padmaavat" to be the solo release of the week. The actor and the director jointly addressed a press conference in Mumbai on Friday, where they made the announcement.
“I have worked in two films with Sanjay Leela Bhansali,” Kumar said at the event. “There is no point clashing. I can completely understand that his need is more for this date than mine.”
Bhansali has produced the Akshay Kumar starrers Rowdy Rathore and Gabbar is Back. The movie star said about the clash between "Pad Man" and "Padmaavat", “Both films could have easily released on the same day, we could have shared the screens. But his stakes are higher than mine. He needs to release his film as soon as possible.”
Bhansali added, “I will be grateful to him for a lifetime for what he has done.”
The two films were set to clash over the lucrative Republic Day weekend, but R Balki’s movie, loosely inspired by the achievements of low-cost sanitary "Pad Man"ufacturer Arunachalam Muruganantham, has now bowed out of the game and will be out on February 9.
"Padmaavat", previously titled Padmavati, traces Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji’s invasion of the kingdom Chittor in order to conquer its beautiful queen, Padmini. The period drama, which is set in the sixteenth century, has weathered protests, threats and public interest litigation filed against the Central Board of Film Certification’s clearance. Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have banned "Padmaavat" despite the censor board’s go-ahead. They might have to reconsider their decision after the Supreme Court ruled against the ban after a petition was filed by producers Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali Productions.
A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, ruled, “Creative freedom, freedom of speech and expression can’t be guillotined... artistic freedom has to be protected.”
"Pad Man" would have had to share more than just screen space with "Padmaavat". The community organisation Rajput Karni Sena’s threats to vandalise theatres screening Bhansali’s period movie have not abated, and such violence, if not prevented by local law enforcement agencies, would have also affected "Pad Man".
The Rajput Karni Sena, which claims that "Padmaavat" distorts history, has also threatened to disrupt an event featuring Central Board of Film Certification chairperson Prasoon Joshi at the Jaipur Literature Festival, which starts on January 25. Members of the group have also threatened lawyer Harish Salve, who represented the film’s producers, his office told NDTV.
Narendra Modi’s government has not made any statement in "Padmaavat"’s favour thus far, nor has it condemned the repeated attacks on the movie’s makers and cast, including by its own party members.
The February 9 date is taken by Luv Ranjan’s romcom Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and Neeraj Pandey’s espionage thriller Aiyaary, which was originally supposed to be out on January 26. The Sidharth Malhotra- Manoj Bajpeyee starrer was shifted to February 9 to avoid clashing with "Padmaavat" and "Pad Man", and it now appears that it will be bumped further down the calendar, possibly to February 26.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s "Padmaavat" is being released in 2D and 3D IMAX versions in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu across India and the world. Bhansali’s period drama, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, has been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification with a U/A certificate and five cuts. The movie is based on the sixteenth-century epic poem Padmavat, and is Bhansali’s second historical after Bajirao Mastani (2015). Bhansali had previously directed a stage production based on the story, which draws from Albert Roussel’s opera from 1923.
This article was first published on Scroll.In and is being republished under special arrangements.