CBFC Chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani says filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali has done so much for Indian tourism through his films. Condemning the recent attack on the filmmaker in Jaipur, Nihalani said the incident is a big blow to Rajasthan's tourism.
Activists of Shree Rajput Karni Sena misbehaved with the crew of Bhansali's upcoming film "Padmavati" and vandalised the set in Jaipur last week.
Describing it as a shameful act of violence against the finest living filmmaker in the country, the Chairperson of CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) said: "Sanjay Bhansali has taken our cinema to every corner of the world. He is celebrated as a genius all over the world. And look at how much he has done for tourism in India."
"His 'Khamoshi: The Musical' and 'Guzaarish' were shot in Goa and promoted the beauty of the coastal paradise. 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' and 'Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela' promoted Gujarati culture. 'Bajirao Mastani' took the Maratha warrior's story all over the world."
"And now, 'Padmavati' is all set to open a new chapter of our rich heritage and culture in Rajasthan. But will the lumpen elements allow Bhansali to shoot in Rajasthan? Will he ever go back there? This is a big blow to Rajasthan's tourism. Once the state government had agreed to let Bhansali shoot in Jaipur, it was their responsibility to provide him protection."
Nihalani asked why must filmmakers face danger while shooting outdoors in India?
"Fiji, Mauritius and South Africa provide every safety and subsidy for Indian film shoots. In India, forget subsidies, even the well-being of your crew and equipment is not ensured," he said.
Bhansali, a National Award-winning director, was accused for "distorting" history in the film about the medieval-era Delhi ruler Alauddin Khilji, who fell in love with Rajput queen Padmavati.
Ajit Andhare, Chief Operating Officer, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, the producers of "Padmavati", said the incident is a "huge low in the relations between politics and creativity".
"We are celebrating the glory of the queen. We are dismayed at the ugly turn of events," he added.
Veteran actress Shabana Azmi also condemned the "reprehensible attack on Bhansali".
"Is it a mere coincidence that the attack on the film 'Water' many years ago was also in a Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled state? The guilty must be punished and the film industry should stand firmly together and do whatever it takes to ensure that such an incident is never repeated. This has reached flash point," she added.
Acclaimed lyricist, screenwriter and ad guru Prasoon Joshi called Bhansali a "stalwart and a gentle soul". "Violence can never be the solution. The idea of democracy is not to feed the animal in us but to nurture human values."
Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra asked the film industry to stand up together and demand for justice. "When you slap Sanjay, you slap all of us and we should not take it lying down."
Filmmaker Rakesh Roshan was also left shocked. "If anyone had a grievance, things could have settled in a dignified way. I am with Sanjay all the way."