Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie, Padmavati, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. A film based on the life of Rani Padmini, a Rajput queen who committed “Jauhar”, self-immolation, rather than falling prey to the conquering Allauddin Khilji. The story of Rani Padmini is a fable. It’s not true. It never happened.
However, a political front of the Rajputs in Rajasthan, the Karni Sena, feel that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has depicted romantic scenes between Rani Padmini and Allauddin Khilji. They attacked the film set where the movie was being shot and even hit Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Mr. Bhansali and the team of Padmavati have cried themselves hoarse stating that there are no romantic scenes between Rani Padmini and Allauddin Khilji.
The lead actress of the movie, Deepika Padukone, has been threatened that her nose will be cut off. An office bearer of the Bharatiya Janata Party from Haryana, Mr. Suraj Pal Amu, has offered a bounty of Rs.10 crores (US $ 1.50 million approx.) to the person who beheads Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
No police action has been taken on Mr. Amu for the threats made by him. The Bharatiya Janata Party has, after a lot of pressure from the opposition and the media, issued a show cause notice to Mr. Amu, asking him to explain his statement.
Today, we find that several Chief Ministers seem to be in a hurry to ban the movie because, they say “it plays with cultural sentiments and distorts history”. Yogi Adityanath the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Captain Amrinder Singh – the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shivraj Singh Chouhan – the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh are a few examples.
Because of the excruciating political pressure, the Producers of the movie have backed out of releasing the movie. A flimsy excuse of resending the movie to the Censor Board for certification due to some paper work lacunae has been given.
It is evident that the Rajput Karni Sena is a huge vote bank and with the elections just round the corner, no political party wants to take a chance. Taking the right stance may mean losing the elections which no one wants.
Senior actress and former Member of Parliament, Ms. Shabana Azmi took a stand against the protests and even suggested that the Film Industry boycott the current International Film Festival of India in Goa. However, no one seems to have taken a heed of this. The film industry has whole heartedly participated in the said Film Festival, leaving the makers of Padmavati, their colleagues from the same industry, in a lurch.
The Film Industry in India is a soft target. With so much of money at stake and with no real Government protection, it has always been a soft target for the Gangsters or Politicians. There is no public recollection of an event when the Film Industry has stood a common ground against a particular issue. The makers and actors of Padmavati are going through trying times and it is indeed a mystery as to when the movie will release.
Some say it will be released after the elections. However, the fact remains that Rani Padmini has had to commit Jauhar again in this modern age, at the altar of Indian Politics.