NEW DELHI: Sanjay Leela Bhansali's epic drama "Padmavati" has been facing controversy since the director started shooting the film earlier this year. Bhansali and lead actor Deepika Padukone have also received threats from fringe groups.
The makers of the film have deferred the release date of the film from December 1st, 2017.
Now, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has accused Sanjay Leela Bhansali of being "habitual of playing with public sentiments".
'Padmavati' director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is no less guilty than those issuing threats to actors involved in the film, he said.
The chief minister asserted that if there is any action, "it will be against both the sides" as he attacked Bhansali, further fuelling the ongoing row over the screening of the movie which has been opposed by some groups over alleged "distortion" of facts.
His remarks came after chief ministers of BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh voiced concern over the movie and were joined by their Punjab counterpart Capt Amarinder Singh of Congress who said cinematic licence does not give anyone the right to twist historical facts.
The Uttar Pradesh government has said it would not allow the movie's release till certain "controversial portions" are removed.
"No one has the right to take the law into own hands whether it is Sanjay Leela Bhansali or anyone else," Adityanath said today.
"I feel that if those threatening (the actors of the film) are guilty, Bhansali is no less guilty," he told reporters here, adding if there is any action, "it will be against both the sides".
Bhansali, who has been under attack over his depiction of Rajput queen Padmavati, has maintained that there is nothing objectionable and that he has been careful in portraying the valour and sacrifice of the queen.
Earlier, there was a controversy over the title of Bhansali's move 'Ram Leela' which was subsequently changed to "Goliyon ki rasleela: Ram-Leela".
On threats being issued to eliminate actors, Adityanath said, "Everyone should respect the feelings of each other. And I feel that if everyone has good thoughts and intentions, there would be amity in society."
The film is based on Rajput queen Padmavati. Amid rumours that there was a romantic dream sequence between Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji's characters, various Rajput and other groups have been protesting across the country, including in Rajasthan, against the film, alleging it "distorts" history and hurts the sentiments of the people.
Historians are, however, divided on whether Rani Padmavati even existed.
UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya had said the "legendary queen" had sacrificed her life instead of surrendering before the Mughals and made a place for herself in the history.
"Islamic invaders created a lot of mayhem in the country. The 'Rani' burnt herself alive in 'Jauhar' for her 'satitva' (pride) and dignity," Maurya had said.
"We will not let the movie be released in Uttar Pradesh unless its controversial portions are removed," he had said.
On November 15, the UP government had shot off a letter to the Centre stating that releasing Bollyoood movie on December one would not be in the interest of law and order in the state.
In a letter to I & B secretary, the state's Principal Secretary Home Arvind Kumar had said that the Censor Board should be apprised of the public resentment over the alleged distortion of facts in the movie.
It noted that the strong protests by these organisations, which were demanding banning of the screening of the movie for alleged "wrong portrayal" of Padmavati, was creating law and order problems.
The state home department specifically said in its letter that in view of civic polls scheduled on November 22, 26 and 29 and counting on December 1, and also Barawafat on December 2 when the Muslim community takes out processions, if the movie is released on December 1 it would not be in the interest of law and order of the state.
Taking precautionary measures, state DGP Sulkhan Singh has asked the force to remain extra vigilant.
Protests over the Bhansali film were witnessed in Rajasthan and in parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Padmavati stars Deepika Padukone in the main role, Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji.
Bhansali and Padukone have received threats following which their security has been beefed up by the Mumbai police.
A fringe group in Bareilly targeted Padukone, announcing a reward of Rs 1 crore for anyone "burning her alive", a matter which the police said it was looking into.
The film fraternity has come out in support of Bhansali and the team, with many leading artistes calling it an attack on creative freedom.