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Controversial Bollywood movie Padmaavat, which has released in India after a struggle, is now barred from opening in cinemas in Malaysia over concerns regarding "sensitivities of Islam".
Malaysia's National Film Censorship Board (LPF) has barred filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat from getting released in the country.
LPF chairman Mohd Zamberi Abdul Aziz said in a statement that the storyline of the film itself is of grave concern as "Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country", reports variety.com. "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," Aziz said.
Based on 16th century poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi's poem Padmavat, the film was caught in a row in India after protests from a Rajput outfit Shri Rajput Karni Sena over allegations that the movie distorts historical facts and dents the pride of the Rajput community. The film was eventually released in India on January 25.
Post-release, the film has had mixed reviews. It has been criticised by some sections for glorifying not just Jauhar and also for showing Alauddin Khilji as a demon-like figure. The distributor in Malaysia is expected to appeal the LPF decision to a separately constituted Film Appeals Committee on Tuesday.
Malaysia has a history of banning movies that are widely distributed elsewhere in the world. Last year, it banned Disney's Beauty and the Beast because of its gay moment, before relenting and allowing it a PG13 certificate. The country also prosecuted filmmaker Lena Hendry last year, for holding a private screening of a documentary No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka.
Rights advocacy groups say that Malaysia's censorship laws are used in an arbitrary fashion, and that they are stunting Malaysian filmmaking, which is losing market share and is increasingly focused on genre titles, variety.com said.