How Padmavati Succumbed To Fringe Bullying: A  Blow By Blow Account

Deferring  the release date of Padmavati—and a new date is not yet decided, so don’t let know-all websites and  portals  fool you—was  not a decision taken by filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

It was  the producers who  decided to inform Bhansali that they had decided to postpone the release date “for  a more suitable Friday in the next couple  of months.”

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SLB said , ‘Ok,’ and  disconnected the phone.

For  him the battle  to get into the theatres on schedule, and thereby  not succumb to  fringe bullying, had just ended.

“No explanation was given, none demanded by SLB.The  fight has gone out of his spirit. He has poured his blood sweat and tears  in Padmavati. He is  now done.Now he has left the matter in the hands of his very capable  producers Viacom  18 Motion  Pictures,” says an informed source.

Viacom’s sudden announcement  on  Sunday postponing the December 1  release, has taken  the entire Padmavati team  aback.

What prompted Viacom to take this hasty decision?

Apparently the complete failure of attempts  to pacify  the  protesters  even after SLBrecorded  a video  vowing there was  nothing even remotely slanderous  in  his film, had begun to worry Viacom.

Says  a source, “The  concern  was not just restricted to the Indian  bosses at Viacom. It went all the way to the headquarters  in  the US.”

Apparently  the  command  to defer release came from the headquarters after all attempts to assuage suspicion about the Padmavati content failed.

Says the source, “The final straw was the ‘special’ screening of  Padmavati for two television journalists(Arnab Goswami, Rajat Shama).On  Friday Shobha Sant the CEO of BhansaliProduction flew to Delhi to screen Padmavati for Arnab Goswami and Rajat Sharma. What was meant  to be  a move  to influence  public opinion in favour  of the film turned  out to be  a futile PR exercise. The protestors wouldn’t buy Arnab’s braggadocio. His  taunting ‘I’ve-seen-THEFILM-you-haven’t’ approach simply backfired. Worse of all the CBFCchairpersonPrasoon Joshi  turned  his  face away from the glare of  the controversy, berating thePadmavati team  for jumping the gun and showing the  film to key mediapersons before  theCBFC.”

Joshi  probably  expected Bhansali to approach him  directly. This didn’t happen.

In their defence a source close to the Padmavati  producers   source says the CBFC  is  not to blame for  the delay. “Prasoon Joshi is  clearly under pressure. It  was very clear to Viacom 18 that they would not be  allowed  to release  the  film before the Gujarat elections. Rather than wait for one more week and  let the  publicity costs escalate Viacom, ordered by the high command, decided to  pull the plug on the release without further delay.”

The  fresh release date won’t happen in a  hurry.

“We are in  no hurry to announce  the new date, We will do so only after gauging the situation,” says  a Viacom  source.

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