New Delhi, September 22, 2017: The Shri Rajput Karni Sena, an organisation of the Rajput community, has said it will oppose screening of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati” if facts are “distorted” in the film.
“Around 20 days back someone from Bhansali’s team had called and told us to see the film, but we asked them to show it to historians and intellectuals. After that we have not heard anything from them,” Lokendra Singh Kalvi, patron and founder of Shri Rajput Karni Sena, told IANS.
His comments come as the first look of Bhansali’s much-awaited film, featuring Deepika Padukone, was released. The actor plays Rani Padmini or Padmavati of Chittor, alongside Ranveer Singh who plays Alauddin Khilji.
In January activists of the Karni Sena had protested and manhandled and misbehaved with the crew of Bhansali’s “Padmavati” claiming that the filmmaker was distorting historical facts in the movie.
They had also damaged some cameras and other equipments. Bhansali had to stop the shooting.
“We will not allow distorted facts to be shown in the film at any cost, and will see to it that the film is not screened in half of India,” Kalvi said.
The Karni Sena claimed that they have got a big library and that in no book is it written that Alauddin Khilji, a powerful ruler of the Khilji dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate in 13th-14th century, fell in love with Padmavati or that he was her lover.
“They are trying to defame Padmavati by distorting historical facts. It is not acceptable,” an activist of Karni Sena said.
A leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced that he would pay a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead an Indian actress and a film director.
Surajpal Singh Amu, a member of the BJP in northern Haryana state, is apparently upset about an upcoming movie, Padmavati, starring actress Deepika Padukone as the 14th-century Hindu queen Padmini.
The movie is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Amu alleged that the movie is misleading, not based on truth and offends Hindu sentiments in the country.
“We will reward the ones beheading them, with 10 crore rupees, and also take care of their family’s needs,” Amu said in an interview with India’s Asia’s Premier News (ANI) earlier this week.
Threats against movie
Amu also vowed not to allow the release of the movie and warned movie theaters to avoid playing the movie or risk being torched.
The movie was set to be released during the first week of December.
Rights activists have reacted strongly to the threats and urged the government to take action.
“This is pretty outrageous that you announce publicly and no action takes place at a time when people are being arrested for most trivial reasons in this country,” Gotum Naulakha, an Indian-based civil liberties activist, told VOA.
An official complaint has been registered against Amu, but many are criticizing the stance of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — which controls the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — on the matter.
“I’ve not heard any official stance from the central government or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” Vinod Sharma, an Indian-based analyst, told VOA.
Anil Jain, a local BJP spokesperson, told ANI that the law applies to everyone in the state of Haryana and no one can threaten others. The central government has yet to react, however.
Bollywood actress Padukone stood her ground and said the movie would be released despite the threats.
“Where have we reached as a nation? We have regressed. The only people we are answerable to is the censor board, and I know and I believe that nothing can stop the release of this film,” Padukone told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) last week.
Padmavati was controversial right from the start. Opponents of the movie stormed the filming of one scene and destroyed the film sets. They were upset that the director of the movie was distorting facts by alleging romance between the Hindu queen and the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji.
Film director Bhansali, however, denies the allegations and maintains the story is based on a Sufi and medieval-era poem written about the Hindu queen. In the poem, the Hindu queen chooses death before the Muslim conqueror could capture her.
Some experts say the poem is centuries old and there is a possibility the Hindu queen might be purely a fictional character found only in folklore.
“There’s a lot of debate in India whether Padmavati was actually a living being many, many years ago or whether she was just an imagined person in a poem,” analyst Sharma said.
Rights activists maintain that if government fails to draw clear lines around the threat made by the politician, and discourage a growing sense of impunity for some, incidents like this will only increase and threaten the freedom of expression in the world’s biggest democracy.
“By letting loose and giving [a] sense of impunity to the goons of the ruling party or people who’re connected or close to the ruling party, we’re paving the ground for much bigger and [worse] things to happen in the near future,” Naulakha told VOA.
The movie is awaiting approval from India’s Central Board of Film Certification.
At the root of the controversy over the release of the Hindi feature film “Padmavati” is, first, the saffron brotherhood’s interpretation of history with a pronounced anti-Muslim bias and, secondly, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s overt and covert attempts to whittle down institutional autonomy.
Even if the BJP’s seemingly political use of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is a continuation of the practice of its predecessor which made the Supreme Court call the CBI a “caged parrot”, the party can be said to have broken new ground by letting vandals of the Hindu Right vent their anger against Padmavati and, thereby, undermining the authority of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
In this case, too, there are precedents as when the Congress objected to the film, “Indu Sarkar,” because of its focus on Indira Gandhi. But the saffron offensive against Padmavati is making a greater impact because of the clout which the Sangh Parivar affiliates enjoy in view of their proximity to power.
It is obvious that if they are not checked, not only will the authority of the CBFC be diminished, but also the board will be wary in future of clearing films dealing with history or issues which are close to the Parivar’s heart. Politics will, therefore, virtually take over the board’s functioning.
What is more, the filmmakers themselves will be dissuaded from touching subjects which may be deemed sensitive and deal instead with safe, insipid topics. Such a state of affairs will be unfortunate at a time when Bollywood has been breaking away from the earlier productions with their song-and-dance routine and predictable storylines which were far removed from reality, except in a few exceptional cases which came to be known as the parallel cinema.
Not long ago, it was expected that the directors and producers will be able to breathe easily after the previous censor board chief, Pahlaj Nihalani, was unceremoniously removed so that he could no longer run amok with his scissors in accordance with his saffron whims, as in the case of reducing the duration of a kiss in a James Bond film or ordering 89 cuts in “Udta Punjab” or not clearing “Lipstick Under My Burkha” at all.
But any hope that the new board will be allowed to exercise its judgement in peace with the support of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has been belied if only because the opponents of the idea of letting the artists pursue their craft unhindered are far too influential politically.
The decision about what the audience will be allowed to see is being taken not only by the self-appointed guardians of culture but also the ministry which has banned two films — “S Durga” and “Nude” — from an international festival in Goa apparently because the letter “S” in “S Durga” stands for “sexy”, which is too strong a word for bureaucratic ears, and “Nude” is out for obvious reasons.
While the rewriting of history books is proceeding apace with Rana Pratap winning the battle of Haldighati against Akbar on the pages of the textbooks printed in Rajasthan, the Hindutva storm-troopers are laying down the rules on how historical events are to be shown on the screen.
India has already seen the exiling of a reputed painter, M.F. Husain, who was hounded out of the country by saffron vigilantes who were displeased with his depiction of Hindu deities.
It will be a sad day if filmmakers, too, have to leave the country or shoot their films elsewhere, as in the case of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which was shot in Sri Lanka.
The standard explanation for demanding cuts in the films is to ensure that the sentiments of the people are not hurt.
It was for this very same reason that Galileo had to disavow his thesis about the earth moving around the sun since such an assertion offended the feelings of the church and the laity in medieval Europe.
It took the church 350 years to apologise. There is unlikely to be anyone in the ruling dispensation or even in the opposition who will be courageous enough to say that the question of whether religious or cultural sensibilities are being hurt cannot be settled on the streets but should be left to the institutions to decide or, as a last resort, to the judiciary to determine with the assistance of scholars.
The saffron ire against “Padmavati” is apparently over the belief that the film will be unable to do justice to the heroic reputation of the queen of Mewar, a legendary beauty, who killed herself rather than be captured by the invading army of Alauddin Khalji.
Although no one, except the censors, has seen the film, the Hindu Right is patently unwilling to take the chance of an erroneous presentation. So the group has donned battle armour to save the fabled queen (real or fictional) 700 years after her death — this time from filmmakers — and is issuing blood-curdling threats against the director and the leading actress.
If accurately presented, the turbulent period of early 14th century Rajasthan can be the subject of a riveting drama. But whether cinema-goers will be able to see the film is still uncertain. (IANS)
New Delhi, November 15: Undoubtedly, anyone could have expected undefined tremors to arise again for a Sanjay Leela Bhansali project, ‘Padmavati’ starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, and Shahid Kapoor after the controversial yet blockbuster film, Goliyon ki Ras Leela-Ram Leela and Bajirao Mastani. The soon to-be released film is a historic depiction of Alauddin Khilji (played by Ranveer) and his lust to capture Chittorgarh as a means to own Rani Padmini, (played by Deepika). To prevent the villanous act, she and the rest of the women in the Chittorgarh fort committed jauhar as an act of self-immolation by not falling into the enemy’s trap. We’re sure the never-ending trouble that the Padmavati team seems to be in has kept you eyed on its updates.
PROTEST AGAINST ‘PADMAVATI’
Since the beginning, the not yet relaesed film, Padmavati has seen political interference from both the BJP and the Congress. Rajput group Karni Sena had been showing their strong resentment by all means that could be adopted be it beating up director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, vandalising the sets, and threatening to burn theatres that showed the film, every trick has been used to ensure an unsmooth run of the film on screens. They also destroyed the beautiful rangoli of Padmavati that led to furious Chittorgarh bandh.
Other political groups did not lose their accord with the historic film. A Congress leader, Pratap Singh Kachariya has demanded a ban on the film with a say that it distorts history.
While in Jaipur, ‘princess’ and BJP MLA Diya Kumari, a representer of both the glamorous and political sides of Jaipur’s ‘royal family’, also issued a similar opposing statement on Padmavati like the congress.
Haryana Health minister Anil Vij and former Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shankersinh Vaghela also announced it’s plan to approach the state government for seeking a ban on the upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Padmavati’ by the Censor Board.
BJP leader hailing from Madhya Pradesh, Akhilesh Khandelwal, declared a reward of Rs 10,000 for the one who could slap the filmmaker of Padmavati, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, with a shoe. He told the media that we, the citizens are responsible to protect the dignity and the history created by our forefathers.
SHRI RAJPUT KARNI SENA EXPOSED
The fake patriotism of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena was found out on investigation by the India Today team. They presented up a fake notion of being an an agent of a Bollywood production house who is planning to work on a fictional romance of the Mughal Era, to which the president of the Karni Sena group expressed no objection.
For a ‘meagre’ price of Rs 1.50 Crore, the Shri Rajput Karni Sena promised to enact an incident of vandalism, which would be recorded and advertised online for publicity.
WILL PADMAVATI HAVE A SMOOTH RELEASE?
Now, that’s the real and undefined question that we all are going to discover in the meantime. With roadblocks coming up continuously, we doubt whether the film will enshine like the previous blockbusters or leave the expectations of the audience in shatters. Well, after so much controversy, the film has surely gained enough audience attention giving you enough reasons to not miss it and watch it on the big screen. Maybe, that’s what they desired, publicity with lots of political intervention. In the words of Deepika Padukone, who beholds the role of Rani Padmini in Padmavati, “Nothing and no one can stop this film”, we hope the film, Padmavati ends up well at the box office with a smooth release.
– Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana