“I feel like making more films. People have given Padmaavat so much love that I feel, aur film banayi jaaye, abhi ke abhi!” he gushes with infectious enthusiasm. Of course, he is not in denial mode. “There are mixed feelings. We (cast and crew) have endured so much,” he says, adding, “We weren't sure whether the film would release. Then, there was a ban in select states. But, I also feel accomplished. The film turned out the way I wanted it to. It has been executed to the best of my ability, almost near perfection. I don't think many others would have been able to pull it off. It (controversies and opposition) was humiliating and infuriating. There was injustice. But, it has been an experience of lifetime.”
According to Bhansali, the changes ordered by the CBFC were minimal. “This is what I wanted to make. There were no changes that I incorporated, barring the alteration of the name; Prasoon Joshi (CBFC chief) gave us a fair certificate when you consider the pressure that was on him. And now, when one sees the film, s/he questions what the hullabaloo was all about?”
He sounds bolder yet when he demands to know why he should have been answerable to the fringe groups. “We enjoy freedom of expression, but it comes with responsibility. I am a responsible filmmaker. When I say there is nothing amiss in the film, people should believe me. Why am I answerable to some fringe group that says it is the torchbearer of history?
There is a government and a Censor Board. I am answerable to them.”
The filmmaker spoke strongly against the states’ decision to not release the film. “When the states decide against releasing the film (after Supreme Court's approval), only because people are angry, that is a failure of democracy. The states should act against them (fringe group) and show them their place. They should be told that they don't have a right (to cause a stir). If they want to protest, they must do it in a civil manner. Yes, there is a sense of intolerance that is rising by the day. I hope artistes fight fearlessly.”
He explained it feelingly, saying, “A musician can't be told to not sing a particular raag because it doesn't suit temperaments. A painter can't be stopped from painting something, lest someone protests by throwing acid on his face or beheads him or even cuts his nose. These were the threats that we received. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the world. It's very scary. I have overcome it, but the anger hasn't subsided. The greatest support came in the form of the audiences' decision to go to cinema halls and watch it. It was a message to those who protested, a sign that viewers aren't scared. If people's voices get louder, in the future, we won't succumb to them.”
Right said, sir!