I started my morning with two news stories today: protests in New York against Trump’s racist comments and Karni Sena encouraging women to commit jauhar (self-immolation) if Padmaavat is released this month. It’s the sad truth of our country that we don’t protest when it matters, and let people take us hostage over innocuous issues.
It has gone on long enough, but every day a fresh bit of news comes up and makes it worse. Shooting a movie you don’t like the subject of? Beat up the makers. A girl dancing on Ghoomar in school? Destroy the grounds of the sin.
And this: Intending to be non-offending and apologetic, the new ad of Bollywood movie Padmaavat is begging people to give the movie a chance. You can just imagine the makers and actors, with their hands folded, asking people to come to the theatres because they have poured their time, money, and sweat (and blood) into it. And the worst part? Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) is not even on the poster!
— Nakuul Mehta (@NakuulMehta) January 15, 2018
The face of the movie, the subject of the movie, the figure who should dominate that space, Padmavati is missing from the front page of the ad. Slyly, Deepika is carved out of the poster because of course, her photograph will hurt the sentiments of those who’ve pinned a prize on her head.
We have already decided what women should wear, how they should behave, where they can go and with whom, and the diktat includes how much of them you can see. The makers have been bullied into painting over Deepika to calm down the ‘saviours of Indian culture’ and that speaks of the same old problem in this country where women are asked to be out of sight, so as to not ‘incite’ men. It is on the next page, if you do turn over, that you finally spot her. That's right, seeing her photograph on the front page of a national daily may remind them that they need to shut down the movie and all those associated with it.
This is not an ad to promote the movie; this is the reality of our life in India.
Let’s face it, the mob culture reigns. After weeks and weeks of delays, the movie is banned in Rajasthan on Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s recommendation and Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and now Gujarat (all BJP-governed states) have pulled the curtain on the film as well.
It’s the 21st century and we are still banning movies and apologising for making something that people don’t agree with—even without watching them. I really thought this would be over with Karan Johar’s ‘sorry’ video. But it may never end. And why would it? Mochi in Aaja Nachle was dubbed over; barber was removed from Billu; and Ram Leela became Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela. Angry Indian Goddesses was cut to ribbons and Lipstick Under My Burkha was banned.
If you’re reading this, then go and watch the movie. Talk about it on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat. Discuss it with your friends. As it says in our editorial room, don’t let the Muggles get you down!