As protests against Padmavati gather steam all across India, Pihu director Vinod Kapri finds the issue scary for a citizen as well as a filmmaker. He says the government needs to take a stand and protect freedom of expression.

“The ‘Padmavati’ issue is really concerning. It is scary for all of us, as a citizen and as a filmmaker also. If we as a nation treat a legendary filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali (like this), then I am really worried about the future,” Kapri said on the sidelines of the ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here.

“There is a censor board and people should respect the censor board, or we should shut down the censor board. But if there is a censor board, then everyone should including the Shree Rajput Karni Sena (which is at the forefront of the protests), should respect its sanctity. They are not respecting it,” he added.

Bhansali’s attempt to bring alive the story of Rajput queen Rani Padmavati on the silver screen with his movie Padmavati hasn’t gone down well with Hindu groups backed by the BJP. It features Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in pivotal roles.

Bhansali faced many hiccups while shooting the film, but the protests escalated as the film neared its release date. There are conjectures that it “distorts history” regarding the Rajput queen, and Bhansali has denied it repeatedly.

The movie’s release date has been deferred from the original December 1 date, but there are efforts from Hindu groups to have it banned.

Kapri, whose film Pihu replaced the opening Marathi film Nude in the Indian Panorama segment at IFFI, hopes that “this bad phase” will get over soon.

“It will get over. People will realise their mistakes.”

Kapri has had his share of trouble over the release of his film Miss Tanakpur Hazir Ho in 2015. Despite getting a clean chit from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), a leading farmer’s union in Uttar Pradesh “banned” the movie as they were not happy with the portrayal of khaps (kangaroo courts).

So what’s the way forward to tackle such protests, which many call an act of bullying?

“I expect my government to take a tough stand. My government is capable enough to handle such fringe elements. I think government should take a stand and protect freedom of expression.”

Kapri, who was a journalist before foraying into showbiz as a director, says “harsh realities are mind blowing”, and he is trying to capture “those realities in his cinema.

On his future projects, Kapri said: “We are planning to release ‘Pihu’ very soon. I am also working on my next project with Drishyam Films. There is also a project with Siddharth Roy Kapur. I can’t talk about it, but we will be able to say something by 2019 or end of 2018.”