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A cinema-goer takes a selfie in front of a poster of Bollywood movie ‘Padmaavat’ outside a movie theatre.

The Rajasthan high court quashed on Tuesday an FIR lodged against filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the director of Padmaavat, as well as actors Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone after a special screening of the movie mired in allegations of distorting Rajput history.

Justice Sandeep Mehta, while hearing a petition seeking quashing an FIR on behalf of Bhansali, said the complainant filed a case in 2017 before the release of the film, which opened on January 25 this year.

Virendra Singh of Nagaur district had filed the FIR in Deedwana police station against the director and actors, accusing them of “hurting religious sentiments”.

The judge pointed out that the sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) around which the case was made entail fomenting disharmony or enmity between communi­ties and hurting religious sentiments. But these charges don’t hold in this particular case, he said.

“During the hearing, the counsel for the respondent admitted that Padmavati is not a religious icon, but a historical icon. In such a way, there is no question of religious feelings hurt,” the court observed while quashing the FIR.

A disclaimer has been shown in the film, which reflects “our glorious past and the military strategy of Rani Padmavati”, said Justice Mehta, who watched a special show of the film in a private theatre on Monday night.

The judge referred to the film’s plot as “a story of the supreme sacrifice made by women”.

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Reacting to the court order, petitioner’s counsel Ravi Bhansali said the FIR was premature as the film shows the bravery of Rajputana and the Rajput community, and Padmavati’s courage.

“The film was cleared by the censor board after scrutinising all aspects. Even the Supreme Court has stayed orders issued by the Rajasthan government prohibiting exhibition of the film in the state and it is said to be a violation of freedom of expression,” he said.

The high court ordered the state government to ensure compliance of the Supreme Court order, which cleared countrywide release of the movie with instructions to states deploy security during its screening.

The film, based on a 16th century poem by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, has been at the centre of a controversy since Bhansali began shooting in Jaipur in January last year. Rajput groups protested against the movie, originally named Padmavati, alleging that the filmmakers have distorted history and tarnished the image of queen Padmini.

The film is facing violent protests by members of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena, which accused Bhansali and the two lead actors of insulting the community’s honour.

Courtesy; Hindustan Times

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