New Delhi: After a hard-fought release in India, Deepika Padukone-starrer Padmaavat is in trouble abroad.
The Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, based on a 16th century poem about legendary Rajput queen Rani Padmini, has been banned in Malaysia for allegedly portraying Islam in bad light.
Malaysia’s national censorship board said it took the tough measure "because the plot of the movie gave a bad image about Islam through the role played by a (Muslim) sultan”.
Malasyia's home ministry said the character of Alauddin Khilji, the antagonist in the movie, was depicted as "arrogant, cruel and inhumane", the Free Malaysia Today reported.
"This was bad for Islam's image as the sultan (Khilji) was shown as representing an Islamic sultanate," the report quoted the home ministry as saying.
"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," the country's National Film Censorship Board (LPF) chairman Mohd Zamberi Abdul Aziz said.
Malaysia's Film Appeal Committee had also rejected an appeal by the movie's distributors in the country to lift the ban.
"Unfortunately, the film is still banned. LPF reviewed the film today and decided to uphold the ban," Antenna Entertainments' managing director Liza Anand was quoted as saying by the Star online.
Muslims make up 60 percent of multi-ethnic Malaysia's 32 million population. The country has previously banned movies that it feared could hurt religious sensitivities, including Hollywood biblical epic "Noah" and "The Passion of the Christ".
Antenna Entertainments had estimated RM5 million (approximately Rs 8 crore) in box-office takings for Padmaavat in Malaysia.
The film, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, is based on the 16th century epic, "Padmaavat" by poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi.
The film faced controversy at home as well after various Rajput groups accused Bhansali of "distorting historical facts" with the portrayal of queen Padmavati, a claim repeatedly denied by the filmmaker.
The film was released on January 25 in India after the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) cleared it last month with a 'U/A' certificate and five modifications, including title change from Padmavati to Padmaavat.
In Pakistan, another Muslim-majority country, the censor board had cleared film without any cuts for screening with a 'U' certification.