Padmavati :- The controversies regarding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest film ‘Padmavati’ does not seem to stop any sooner. With every passing day, the accusations and controversies are gaining speed.
The CM Mamata Banerjee Offers Special Screening For Padmavati, a Muslim-Cowood film! I’ve written and spoken about this film being a historical fantasy, but even those who recognize the film’s artistic merits must have been shocked by the decision of the CM to screen this piece. She recently made it clear to Film Certification Board (FCB) that she will not allow this film to be shown. The reason given was that ‘Padmavati’ is ‘derogatory’ towards Muslims. Given the fact that it was the Congress that insisted on screening the film for people like Mamata Banerjee, the fact that the film was screened now without any government interference or support does not seem right.
Films, of course, are meant to entertain us. Why is it that some people find it offensive when they see a movie? Why is it that they do not like films that portray a certain community in a negative way? Why do they react in such a way? Is it because films that depict violence against minorities are invariably labeled as ‘terrorist’ films? Is it because movies that feature heroes who ‘save’ the innocent are forever tagged as anti-national?
We should also ask why films that show a heroic character risking his life for the sake of a woman, the victim of a crime, or a person from a disadvantaged community are labelled as hate films? One reason for this is the presumption that a film is anti-national if it is shown. How many films have we seen where a character is not shown being victorious in some battle, but is instead seen to die of wounds? So what then do the CM and other such individuals have against films that display a positive portrayal of an oppressed community? I guess the answer to that question lies in the fact that they are, for them, one who is ‘anti-national’.
Amidst all these, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, has said that she would welcome the director of ‘Padmavati’, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, along with the whole crew to the state and would make special arrangements for the film’s premiere and release.
The statement of the Chief Minister of West Bengal came just a couple of days later after her tweet which stated that the row over the film was a “calculated plan” to destroy the freedom of expression in the country.
“If they (Bhansali and producer) cannot release Padmavati in any other state, we will make special arrangements for it in our state. Bengal will be happy and Bengal will be proud to do that. We will take care of it. Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his Padmavati team are welcome in our state”, said Mamata Banerjee at the India Today Conclave East, 2017.
This statement was made in favour of the earlier tweet which she had done on November 20. In the tweet, she said, “The Padmavati controversy is not only unfortunate but also a calculated plan of a political party to destroy the freedom to express ourselves. We condemn this super emergency. All in the film industry must come together and protest in one voice.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader of Haryana, Suraj Pal Amu has threatened the Chief Minister of West Bengal of a similar fate like Surpanakha if she continues to support Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus ‘Padmavati’.
In an interview, Suraj Pal Amu told ANI, “Mamata Banerjee should not forget how women like Surpanakha was dealt by Lakshman, who chopped off her nose. Like Rani Padmavati, she (Mamata) is also a woman. If she cannot respect a woman, she will get the answer from the people of Bengal.
Political parties from all over the country have condemned Suraj Pal Amu’s remarks. Trinamool Congress secretary Partha Chatterjee has once again demanded an apology from Amu.
While speaking to the press Partha Chatterjee said that “Those who want to curtail freedom of speech and expression of the Opposition can say such things. The entire country is condemning it. The person who has made such statements must tender his public apology or the people of Bengal will give a fitting reply to him.”
BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya has too condemned the statements made by Amu. He told the reporters, “I think no one should use such language against an elected chief minister of a state. This is not the way to show opposition to a party.”
On Saturday, Left Front Chairman Biman Bose said, “This is not acceptable. This is the culture of BJP. By saying such things, they are showing their culture.”
Other prominent personalities have also criticised the remarks of Haryana’s BJP leader. Eminent Bengali writer Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay said, “They should be more careful about the language in which they target others. This is very unfortunate.”
The film had an ensemble cast featuring actress Deepika Padukone in the title role as Rani Padmavati, alongside actors Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji. Actress Aditi Rao Hydari and actor Jim Sarbh has been cast in supporting roles. The film is based on the epic poem ‘Padmavat’ (1540) written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi.
The film became controversial right from the production began. Shri Rajput Karni Sena, a Rajput caste organisation, allegedly claimed that some of the scenes in the film depicted factual inaccuracies and has portrayed the Rajput queen Padmavati in a bad light.
The allegation was that the film has a romantic dream sequence in which Rani Padmavati and Sultan Alauddin Khilji has been portrayed in an intimate contact. However, when a sting operation was conducted by an Indian news channel, it was found that the controversies were planted in order to extort money from the filmmakers.
In March 2017, while the cast and crew were filming a scene in Masai plateau, Kolhapur at night, a mob of around 20-30 people armed with petrol bombs, stones and lathis charged and set the whole place ablaze, injuring animals and destroying several costumes.
In October, a rangoli of the first poster released from the film, which reportedly took 48 hours to create, was destroyed by a group of around 100 people shouting religious slogans.
Bharat Kshatriya Samaj, another caste organization, made death threats against Bhansali and Padukone, putting a ₹5 crore bounty on their heads.
Suraj Pal Amu has put a ₹10 crore bounty on the heads of both Padukone and Bhansali and has threatened to break Ranveer Singh’s legs.
On 24 November 2017, a dead body was found hanging in Nahargarh Fort with a sentence scribbled on a nearby rock wall stating in Hindi, “Padmavati ka virodh”. The graffiti also included a warning, “We don’t just burn effigies, we hang them.”
The film which was initially scheduled to be released on 1 December 2017, but has been postponed indefinitely by its producers, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, in response to protests and threats of violence.
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