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Calls to boycott IFFI ‘madness’, says Rahul Rawail

Rahul Rawail, the acting jury head of the Indian Panorama section of the 48th IFFI, says calls to boycott the movie gala is “madness”.

IANS | Panaji |

Filmmaker Rahul Rawail, who is the acting jury head of the Indian Panorama section of the 48th IFFI after Sujoy Ghosh resigned in the wake of the exclusion of two jury-suggested films in the final list, says calls to boycott the movie gala is “madness”.

Rawail was a part of the jury headed by Ghosh, who had resigned after two films — Sanal Sasidharan’s Malayalam movie S Durga and Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi movie Nude — were ousted from the final list for the section at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2017.

“I just hope the festival goes well,” Rawail said.

The brouhaha over the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting overuling the jury’s decision had led several members of the film fraternity to demand that the industry skip the current edition of the fest.

To that, Rawail said: “Pagalpan hai (It is madness).”

The fest, which will go on till November 28, is under extra scrutiny for the exclusion of the two films, and also due to the stir around Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmavati.

Interestingly, at a platform which claims to celebrate cinema, most attendees are refraining to talk about the row.

But Rawail was upfront.

He wonders whether the Indian classic Mughal-E-Azam would have released under the current political climate or not.

He said: “On ‘Padmavati’, I strongly stand with the filmmaker. He has made a film with a lot of conviction and lot of hard work. He is probably one of the best directors we have today. He is not going to play around with history.

“There is a debate that you can’t play around with history, and many people are saying that ‘How can you have fiction and history put together?’. I thought what happened to ‘Mughal-E-Azam’? Anarkali is a completely fictitious character. Anarkali doesn’t exist in history.

“The film stars Dilip Kumar… There was Dilip Kumar playing Salim and Prithviraj Kapoor. Someone even said that nobody protested at that time (at the time of the release of the 1960 film). I feel that it is a very stupid thing to say. I thought that means if we make ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ (again), will they ban it? They will not.”

Padmavati has been mired in controversy over conjectures that it “distorts history” regarding Rajput queen Padmavati, a contention that Bhansali has repeatedly denied. The film also features Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in lead roles, with Deepika Padukone playing Rani Padmavati.

The film has been deferred from its original December 1 release.

Rawail said: “Bhansali could not take things into his hands where he would change history. I think things need to be tackled in a better way. I admire Bhansali and Viacom18 Motion Pictures for agreeing to delay the film because it could have created a lot of trouble… They have taken a great step forward by letting it die down.”

A new date is yet to be announced, but “beheading” threats have been put out against Bhansali and Deepika.

Rawail called the violent threats a “stupid” act.

Rawail is happy to be on board for IFFI this year, and hopes that everything at the “festival goes well”. The fest will conclude on November 28.

Defending the ministry for dropping S Durga and Nude, he said: “‘Nude’ in any case was a completely incomplete film. ‘S Durga’ came to us as called ‘Sexy Durga’ but was censored as S Durga’. There were some changes made, which makes it a complete new film.

“You are applying for film A and you get a film calling it B, which is not part of the regulation.”

As for film buffs in Goa, he said: “Enjoy the films and enjoy the film fest”.