The Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (Lembaga Penapis Filem or LPF) has banned the release of the Bollywood movie Padmaavat in the country. The plot of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed movie is a sensitive topic for a country that has Muslim majority population, LPF chairman Mohd Zamberi Abdul Aziz said.
“The storyline of the film touches on the sensitivities of Islam. That in itself is a matter of grave concern in Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country,” he said, Variety.com reported.
The film has been deemed as not approved by the censor board. It has also remarked “not relevant” under the age rating section, a remark generally used for films that can arouse violence and hatred in the community, freemalaysiatoday.com reported.
The Malaysian censor board has been vested with the powers of either allowing or disallowing a film from being screened and the decision of the board cannot be questioned by the courts.
The distributor of the film in Malaysia is set to appeal against the decision taken by the LPF to the Film Appeals Committee on Jan. 30.
The Malaysian censor board had earlier banned the Filipino movie Those Long Haired Nights, which was based on transgender prostitutes. Popular Disney’s film Beauty and the Beast was also banned last year for showing homosexuality. It was only after Disney appealed against the decision of the board that the movie was allowed to be screened with a PG13 certificate.
The board has often drawn flak for arbitrarily banning movies to be released in the county. Last year in March, Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz criticized the board for going overboard and reminded it to stop being the moral guardians of the people. He also said that if more movies were banned and censored, people would take to illegal ways to watch them.
Padmaavat has been embroiled in controversies much before its release in India too, as caste-based organizations such as the Karni Sena accused filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali of twisting historical facts. The sets of the film were burnt and the crew was assaulted last year by activists protesting against the making of the movie. During the last few months, threats were made against actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh for featuring in it.
Earlier this month some women in Rajasthan had threatened to commit mass suicide if the movie is released. “They are showing our history incorrectly. They have not given a religious touch to it – they have given a glamorous touch to it,” Manjushri Shaktawat, one of the organizers, had said.
The film was released in India on Jan. 25 after many modifications, including changing its title from Padmavati to Padmaavat, were made following the Supreme Court judgement in favor of its release.