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Panaji, Nov 29: They don’t know fact from fiction about fabled Rajput queen Padmavati, but the uproar over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati” has made visiting international movie talent here sit up and take note of how “autocratic” and “dangerous” voices and actions are infringing on freedom of expression in India’s film industry.

Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) artistic director Cameron Bailey, who were at the just-concluded 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), were vocal in their support for Bhansali.

“Artistes face this kind of situations because of the talent and desire they have. That extends to filmmakers too. They should not stop innovation in their work because of adverse conditions,” Majidi said on the opening day of the festival.

He was among a string of artistes and filmmakers who visited IFFI, which itself was caught in a controversy over the exclusion of two films — “S. Durga” and “Nude” — from its Indian Panorama section. The brouhaha over these and “Padmavati” — which is under attack for alleged distortion of facts — became a crucial talking point throughout the fest.

Michael J. Werner, a film and media strategic consultant who attended the Film Bazaar here, told IANS: “I think it is a dangerous trend because you shouldn’t have a government dictating history. What is happening with this particular movie (‘Padmavati’) seems to be a minister or a department or a state saying that we don’t accept that representation of history.

“I don’t know whether it is factual or not, but it is still a kind of an autocratic response.”

“Padmavati”, which sets out to tell the tale of the valour and courage of Rani Padmavati, whose historicity is in doubt, has been under the scanner since its shoot began. Its National Award-winning director was assaulted and the set vandalised in Jaipur by Rajput organisation Karni Sena over the conjecture that the movie will feature intimate scenes between the characters of Padmavati and the invader Alauddin Khilji.

Thereafter, the Karni Sena has continued its protest and has been intense in its effort to stall the film’s release, which has been deferred from its original December 1 date as of now.

There were threats to burn down theatres if the film was released and a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader announced a reward of Rs 10 crore for beheading Bhansali and the movie’s lead actress, Deepika Padukone.

In the midst of this, “Padmavati” got a go-ahead from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) for release. But the makers are waiting for a decision by India’s censor board.

French producer Ilann Girard feels a film shouldn’t be held hostage by any conflict.

“I have been watching things on television and asking my Indian friends about the situation. I understand it touches some cultural element about a female character who is seen as a very important symbolic figure for Hindus,” Girard, Managing Director of Online Film Financing (OLFI), told IANS.

Girard, who was visiting India for the third time, didn’t want to pass any judgment as it’s an “Indian topic”, but said: “My perception is that film and the cultural industry should not be taken hostage of the conflicts.”

Narrating his own struggle with freedom of expression, he said: “I have produced a film in Israel about the war in Lebanon, and we are facing some embargo from filmmakers trying to pressurise film festivals not to take our movie. I think it is a wrong thing to do. Because, on the contrary, the film explains the situation… Filmmakers should remain free to tell the story that they want.”

TIFF’s Bailey said people must wait for censor clearance before drawing assumptions and conclusions.

“One of the small mercies with censor authorities is that they actually do watch the film before they pass judgment. So one hopes that anyone who hears about a film that they think that they might have an objection to, should first watch the film,” Bailey told IANS.

Bailey feels the film should be given a “benefit of doubt before passing judgment”.

“We can all have differences of opinion with any art form, but I think we live in a better world where we wait to actually see what the film is before we pass judgment. Also, we accept that other people have different responses to that. What I might not like to see on-screen, some others might. That doesn’t mean I should prevent that person from seeing it.”

Mike Dougherty from Radiant Films International, a worldwide distribution company, feels the controversy is unfortunate for “the filmmakers and for the audiences eager to see the film”.

He, however, said the row will perhaps draw more eyeballs to the movie across the world.

“The issues causing unrest around ‘Padmavati’ here in India are not known in other parts of the world. If anything, I think controversies like this just increase a film’s profile and its value internationally, making people more eager to see what the uproar is about,” Dougherty added.

As dark clouds still loom over the future of “Padmavati”, Ana Tiwary, a Sydney-based producer-director of Indivisual Films, hopes the controversy will die down soon.

IANS (By Sugandha Rawal)

Entertainment

Kangana calls Tandav ‘Hindu phobic’, ‘atrocious’ and ‘objectionable’

Kangana’s tweet comes at a time when a criminal complaint has been filed before a Delhi court seeking action against OTT platform Amazon Prime and the makers of the web series.

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Tandav Movie

Mumbai: Actress Kangana Ranaut on Monday criticised Ali Abbas Zafar’s controversial new series Tandav, starring Saif Ali Khan.

Kangana slammed the series, calling it “Hindu phobic, atrocious and objectionable”.

“The problem isn’t just the Hindu phobic content, it’s also creatively poor and deprived, atrocious and objectionable on every level hence deliberately placed controversial scenes. Put them in jail not just for criminal intentions but also for torturing the viewer #tandavwebseries,” the actress tweeted from her verified account on Monday.

Kangana’s tweet comes at a time when a criminal complaint has been filed before a Delhi court seeking action against OTT platform Amazon Prime and the makers of the web series.

The complaint filed under Section 200 of the CrPC seeks summoning, commencing trial and punishing the accused persons alleging that the web series is provoking communal disharmony and is hurting the sentiments of Hindus.

Controversy arose with sections of people claiming a particular sequence featuring Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub insults the Hindu god Shiv and also hurts Hindu sentiments.

The nine-part political web series created and directed by Zafar, features Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sunil Grover, and Gauahar Khan in key roles.

Zafar has issued an aplogy on behalf of the cast and crew.

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Entertainment

Jared Leto calls Zack Snyder a ‘madman’

Leto had played the Joker in the 2016 release, Suicide Squad. He loves the chance to play the part of the DC Comics villain again.

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Los Angeles, Jan 19 : Actor Jared Leto says he enjoyed working with director Zack Snyder on his version of Justice League, known as the Snyder cut.

The actor will reprise the role of the Joker in the Snyder Cut of Justice League.

“He’s (Snyder) a warrior. He’s a madman. I really love him,” said Leto, reports contactmusic.com.

“With every character I play – I don’t know if it’s because I work so intently and I tend to dig really deep and put a lot of time and energy into it – but when I’m done playing with them, done playing the parts, I do miss them a little bit,” he added.

Leto had played the Joker in the 2016 release, Suicide Squad. He loves the chance to play the part of the DC Comics villain again.

“You do all this work and then you’re done, so it is nice to revisit things. You know, parts like the Joker, like Sparma (his role in ‘The Little Things’), what’s really great about those roles is they can be intense and dark, but there’s also a lot of freedom and abandon there,” said Leto.

“And that’s really fun for me, it’s fun for the other actors, it’s fun for the crew. With both of those roles, there was lots of laughter on the set and a lot of joy because you would improvise and say something really funny. So it’s always quite a lot of fun when you can hear people cracking up on the other side of the camera, and I like that quite a bit,” he added.

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Elizabeth Olsen: Nepotism creates fear that you don’t deserve the work you get

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

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Elizabeth Olsen

Los Angeles, Jan 19 : Hollywood star Elizabeth Olsen says she once thought of changing her surname and distance herself from the success of her family because it was insanity growing up in the spotlight.

“It was insanity. There were times when my sisters would always be spotted and I would be in the car with them and it would really freak me out. It has helped me navigate how I want to approach my career,” said the actress, whose older sisters are Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen.

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

Elizabeth opened up om the fears of nepotism.

“The thing about nepotism is the fear that you don’t earn or deserve the work. There was even a part of me when I was a little girl that thought if I’m gonna be an actress I’m going to go by Elizabeth Chase, which is my middle name. And then, once I started working, I was like, ‘I love my family, I like my name, I love my sisters. Why would I be so ashamed of that?’ It’s fine now,” she said.

The actress said fame has made her more of a homebody.

“Fame has also made me someone who is more of a homebody than maybe I would like to be but I know where not to go. If I could do whatever I wanted for the day, I’d start with the gym, then I’d go to the grocery store, because it’s my favourite thing,” Elizabeth told The Sun.

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