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The Padmaavat controversy -a boon or a bane for the film?
- Planet Bollywood Special Correspondant           Let us know what you think about this article

At the time of this article being written, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmaavat' has made around 285 crores at the domestic box-office and clocked more than 500 crores globally. At the time of its release, the film got mixed reviews and the audience, too, seemed divided on the quality of the film. Some were of the opinion that, despite having a lavish scale and memorable performances, the film did not have a piquant screenplay. While it is difficult to assess how many who people who stepped in to the theatres actually liked the film, one can assert with confidence that the huge controversy surrounding the film did propel (and not the other way around) large number of audiences to check out the film in theatres. Some people believed that the controversy and the threats and disruption resulting from it would instil fear in the minds of the common man and he would be affrighted with the prospect of venturing into a theatre, which is something that clearly did not happen. Instead, the controversy piqued the interest of the prospective viewers and made them flock to the theatres in large numbers. But, there was some bad news in store for the makers as well. Despite the Supreme Court lifting the ban imposed by the respective state government in a couple of states, the exhibitors in three states, namely Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, chose not to screen the film as they feared loss of property and lives. The film did get screened in Madhya Pradesh after a few weeks but the damage was done by then. Gujarat and Rajasthan continued to impose the rather unconstitutional ban. The film was based in Rajasthan and Gujarat is a big market for Hindi films, so a ban in these states made a big dent on the overall business of the film. A release in these states would have added several crores to the box-office revenue of the film.

So, was the controversy a bane or a boon for the film? It turned out to be both. While it took the excitement for the film several notches and gave it extraordinary push at the box-office, the ban in two states and the delayed release in another did turn out to be a bane after all. But, did the boon outweigh the bane in the final tally or was it the other way around? As stated earlier, a good number of critics and a section of the audience found the film ordinary and yet, it managed to do the kind of business it did. Yes, there was immense buzz for the film because of the controversy and it gave the film an initial momentum but the film would not have sustained for long at the box-office if the word of mouth was out rightly negative. Despite the thumbs down from a few critics and audience members, it must have struck a chord with a large number of people who watched it in the theatres. Apart from revelling in the opulence of the film, the content of the film must have surely managed to impress them. It must be also understood a lot of people who step out of them homes occasionally to watch a film in a theatre, made it a point to watch this particular film as they were curious about the content of the film.

All the vandalism and hooliganism that happened in the name of protest was wrong. It is a shame that a celebrated filmmaker had to go through physical abuse and severe mental trauma to make and release his labour of love. Though he must have felt vindicated post the success of the film, it is unfortunate that it could not get an all India release despite being lapped up by the audience in the parts that it released.

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