From historical accuracy to dream sequence: 'Padmavati' protests explained

We Indians don't like having our "sentiments hurt", be it a book, movie, remark, advertisement or social media posts. And, some of us, are all too often ready to block any forms of expression that don't sit well with us, so much so, that such quotidian occurrences have become part of our 'ban culture'.

The Leela Bhansali-directed Bollywood film Padmavati is the latest venture to hit the iceberg that is public sentiment, with protestors demanding that the movie's release be banned.

Allegations of distortions of history and objectionable portrayal

However, what is the furore all about? Doubts on the extent to which the National Award-winning filmmaker has fictionalised the story have led to a spiralling controversy, with politicians, organisations, and individuals raising a finger at Bhansali for "distorting history". The period drama starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, and Shahid Kapoor has been facing protests from various communal groups, including the Shree Rajput Karni Sena, that have alleged that the film portrays Rajput queen Rani Padmavati in an objectionable manner.  

Mansinh Rathod, who is leading the Gujarat chapter of 'Karni Sena', explains his community's apparent objections while speaking to news agency PTI. According to Rathod, Bhansali has "distorted the historical facts in the movie".

"We have learnt that there is a dream sequence in the movie wherein Rani Padmavati has been shown romancing with Allaudin Khilji. We condemn such a heinous portrayal of our queen. Karni Sena will never allow such a movie to hit the theatres," Rathod said. He also said that not just in Gujarat, the movie must not be released anywhere in the country. 

Rajput and right-wing bodies join hands against Padmavati:

As reported earlier, protests against Padmavati's release reached Surat on Sunday.

The Rajput Community, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the Karni Sena held a joint protest against the release of the film in Surat.

"The government must put a ban on the release of the film because it is portraying Rani Padmavati in an objectionable way. The history has been distorted in this film. The government has to listen to us otherwise everyone will have to face consequences for this. We won't tolerate the disrespect on our community," a protestor said in Surat.

Massive protests were also held in Gandhinagar on Sunday. According to agency reports, over 100,000 members of the Rajput community converged at a massive gathering in Gandhinagar, demanding a ban on the release of Padmavati

In Gandhinagar, the mega-gathering of the Rajput community saw the presence of senior Karni Sena leaders, such as its founder Lokendrasinh Kalvi and national president Mahipalsinh Makrana. 

"Though the release has been scheduled for December 1, we will make sure that the movie does not see the light of the day," Kalvi claimed. 

According to Virendrasinh Bhati of the Karni Sena, Bhansali has backtracked from his promise of showing the movie to the Rajput community to get a clearance first. 

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, at least 15 members of the Akhand Rajputana Seva Sangh were detained while protesting.

"We have been arrested by the police. We are opposing the movie which is portraying our queen in wrong and objectionable way doing romance and all. We won't allow the film to be released if the objectionable part of the movie isn't deleted," one of the arrested protestors from the Rajput community in Mumbai said. 

Team Padmavati says it's ready for a screening

As reported earlier, the makers of Padmavati on Monday said they were ready to screen the film for those who had doubts about its content once the film was passed by the censor board. Ajit Andhare, chief operating officer, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, said the claims that film was a distortion of history were not true and they were open to screening the film after it was cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). 

The film was submitted to the CBFC last week. 

Earlier, the Supreme Court had rejected the petition filed against the release of the film, saying that the CBFC had not as yet issued a certificate to the movie. While dismissing the petition, the top court said the CBFC was an independent body and the court should not intervene in their jurisdiction. (Read more here

Descending into violence

The Karni Sena, which demolished the sets of the movie in Jaipur and also thrashed Bhansali, last month, again, had warned the director that he would face consequences if the movie distorted historical facts. Bhansali had been assaulted by activists of the Karni Sena during the shooting of the film in Jaipur in January. (Read more here)

Last month, former Congress leader and Rajput strongman Shankersinh Vaghela demanded a pre-release screening of Padmavati for Hindu and Rajput community leaders to check if the makers have not distorted the facts. (Read more here

He had also warned of violent protests by the people of Gujarat if the movie is released without showing it to community leaders. 

Recently, Gujarat BJP had given a representation to the Election Commission opposing the release ahead of Gujarat elections next month, saying that distortion of facts in the movie will hurt the sentiments of the Kshatriya Rajput communities. 

For her part, Padukone, who plays Rani Padmavati, in an interview with news agency IANS, appeared confident that the movie will tide over the controversy, hit the screens and win a "bigger battle" for the industry. "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," she said, adding that the film industry's support symbolises how "this is not about Padmavati... We're fighting a much bigger battle".

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