Raj Babbar Who Was On Parliamentary Committee To Question Bhansali, Speaks on Padmavati Controversy
There is no politician as cleanspeaking as Raj Babbar in this country. The fact that Babbaris also an actor of immense stature helped him understand Snajy Leela Bhansali’s predicament regarding Padmavati when the filmmaker spoke before the Parliamentary Committee on Thursday.
Raj Babbar, says sources, was “extremely empathetic and deeply concerned” when Bhansali was summoned to the Parliamentary Committee in Delhi.
Says Raj Babbar, “I tried to understand what the problem regarding Padmavati is. I don’t know why this situation has escalated into a raging controversy. It should not have been allowed to.As part of the Parliamentary Committee and the only representative of the film fraternity who was present, I tried to make Sanjay Bhansali comfortable and relaxed. I can’t tell you what we spoke because after that I may be summoned,” laughs the gentle neta-abhineta.
However Babbar did bring up his two major concerns. “As far as Padmavati is concerned I am very worried on two counts. My first and predominant concern is the role of the censor board. They should not delay the certification of Padmavati any further. They must see the film the soonest. Because the nation’s and the film industry’s eyes are glued on the CBFC’s verdict on Padmavati.Why the delay? The CBFC must view the film immediately.”
Raj Babbar’s other concern is about the safety of the Padmavati team. “It is the Government’s duty to ensure that no harm is do to the Padmavati team.When the film is released there should be adequate security at theatres to avoid untoward incidents. Release, the film must. The nation must be allowed to see the film before deciding if the content is offensive or not. If not, who will compensate the director and producers for the losses suffered?”
Raj Babbar recalls he is no stranger to raging controversies for his cinema. “I speak now not in my capacity as a member of Parliamentary Committee but as a responsible member of the film fraternity.When B R Chopra’s Insaaf Ka Tarazu was released in 1980 the film and I were condemned for glorifying rape and denigrating women.”
Raj Babbar didn’t know how to handle the controversy. “I was new to such attention and to the film industry. Insaaf Ka Tarazu was my first film.And I played the rapist! Women’s organizations pounced on me condemning my presence in the film as being derogatory to women.You must remember this was way back in the 1980s when concept of women’ empowerment and feminism were just emerging in the media. The aggression regarding women’s rights was new and hotblooded and I had to take the full brunt of it.”
It took one brave and honourable judge to put an end to the attack on Insaaf Ka Tarazu.
Recalls Babbar, “The matter went to Justice Bhagwati who stood by the film. He was a friend of the film’s producer-director B R Chopra and Justice Bhagwati agreed to see InsaafKa Tarazu.I wonder what would’ve happened to our film if he had not agreed to see the film! When he saw the film he recommended it strongly as a statement against rape. He wrote a letter supporting the film.That’s why we were able to release our film.”
Raj Babbar sees the Padmavati controversy as an encore of Insaaf Ka Tarazu. “The same aggression and the determination to bring the film down.Luckily for us we had JusticeBhagwati on our side.”