Taking artistic liberties in a country like India is fraught with challenges. In a multicultural nation, it is difficult to please everyone, and movies being one of the most accessible and influential platforms, seems to be taking the biggest blow, of late. The particular film in concern at the moment is Padmavati. With less than two weeks left for the film’s release, the fringe group Karni Sena has called for a nationwide bandh on the release date - December 1.
Yes, the same Karni Sena which attacked the sets of the film in Jaipur last year where the crew members were assaulted and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali slapped. This morning, the Karni Sena chief, Lokendra Singh Kalvi threatened to cut off Deepika Padukone’s nose if the film is released.
“Don’t provoke us. We’ll cut off her nose as Soorpanaka’s nose was cut off…. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for distorting historical facts. He got money for this film from Dubai. We will not let it release. Don’t provoke us, we’ll start a Bharat Bandh.”
Kalvi’s comment is a rebuttal to an earlier interview by Deepika Padukone where she sighted the protests as part of a “bigger battle” which needs to be fought by the film industry. Her statement was…
“It’s appalling, it’s absolutely appalling. What have we gotten ourselves into? And 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.”
Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali who has been given extra precautionary security even took to social media dismissing claims of Khilji and Padmavati having any scenes that’ll offend the sensibilities of people.
The Uttar Pradesh government has meanwhile, written to the Information and Broadcasting ministry that the film’s release is likely to cause law and order problem in the state. Ram Kadam, a BJP MLA from Maharashtra has also sought a ban on the release of Padmavati in the state.
Prasoon Joshi, the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asserted that he is yet to watch the film. Joshi said: “The speculative reports a few publications are carrying about I having watched Padmavati are absolutely baseless and untrue. I have not watched the film, not expressed any views regarding it. The film will follow the due process at CBFC.”
Meanwhile, the Karni Sena continues to allege that the film has fabricated history and invented a supposed romantic angle between the lauded 13th Century Queen and the Delhi Sultan Allauddin Khilji.The Sena has even said that unless their demands are met, they’ll ban the entry of tourists at the historic Chittorgarh Fort.
What is inherently surprising is that a large majority of people are so complacently willing to draw conclusions even before watching the movie and the creative and in this case, physical, freedom of our country’s artists continue to be in jeopardy.