Padmavati: Cinema owners seek protection after Chittorgarh protests
Sanjay Leela Bhansali film Padmavati is facing protests in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Exhibitors and distributors demand protection from local administration before film’s December 1 release.
Facing protests from Rajput outfits over the alleged wrongful portrayal of historical queen in the upcoming film Padmavati, cinema owners in Rajasthan have sought protection for the smooth screening of the period drama.
Threatening to assault director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shri Rajput Karni Sena led hundreds of people on a protest march in Chittorgarh city on Friday against the screening of the film, which stars Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor and is set to release on December 1.
“It appears that the filmmakers don’t want to screen the film to us before its release because of certain objectionable scenes in which history has been distorted. This is absolutely unacceptable and we won’t let the film release,” said Lokendra Singh Kalvi, patron of the Sena.
“Ab agar wo nahi samajh me ata, toh thik hai. Pehle thappad khaye the, ab joote khayega. (If Bhansali doesn’t understand now, let it be. Last time he was slapped, this time, he will be beaten with shoes),” he said.
Kalvi has been demanding that the film be screened before his group so that they can ensure no objectionable scenes are portrayed in it.
Rani Padmini or Padmavati was a 13-14th century queen of Chittorgarh and the Rajput community has alleged that the movie suggests an “amorous relationship” between Padmavati (played by Deepika Padukone) and Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh). Bhansali and his team have dismissed the claims.
In January, activists of the Sena had protested, manhandled and misbehaved with the film’s crew — even slapped Bhansali — claiming he was distorting historical facts in the movie, forcing the director to stop shooting.
Activists of other Rajput organisations also have protested over the same allegations in other parts of the country, including Gujarat, where the ruling BJP has sought delaying the film’s release to after the elections.
The film has reportedly been insured for over Rs 160 crore to cover loss of ticketing revenue due to riots, strike and malicious damage. However, it doesn’t cover loss of property that exhibitors might face due to rioting.
A DNA report said theatre owners in Rajasthan are wary of screening the film and want local administration to offer them protection.
Also, a distributor is yet to be appointed in the state for the film.
“As of now, no distributor has been appointed in Rajasthan. There are threats, and every day, we get pamphlets warning us not to screen the film,” a distributor is quoted as saying.
“Naturally, we are cautious and would like the local administration to give us police protection so that the film gets screened in our cinema halls. If we don’t get proper police protection and if there are more problems, then we will need to think about screening the film,” he said.
On Friday, hundreds of protesters, that included women and Muslims holding placards and saffron flags, marched through the streets of Chittorgarh, shouting slogans against the film.
Kalvi claimed this signified their unity on the matter.
“Women were leading the rally in protest against the wrong portrayal of Padmavati in the film, which is insulting Indian culture,” said Bhanwar Singh Reta, founder of the Jai Rajputana Sangh.
Reta had earlier threatened to burn cinema halls screening Padmavatiif the film was released without being showcased to Rajput organisations.
“We will be organising a meeting in Ahmedabad on November 12 over this issue. Not only in Rajasthan, we want a ban throughout India,” Kalvi said.
The protest march resulted in a four-hour-long jam in Chittorgarh.