Padmavati, the film on Chittor Rani Padmini is facing the wrath of a few. It began with an attack at Chittorgarh, when the entire set was vandalised and burnt and the director of the movie, Sanjay Leela Bhansali was beaten up, causing losses in crores.
The complaint was that the story of Padmavati was distorted to include romantic scenes between Padmavati and Allaudin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi, which the protestors claim never happened. Despite the deification of Padmavati, a section of the historians claim that there is little evidence to prove the beautiful queen’s very existence, which was immortalised by Malik Jayasi in his epic poem sometimes 2 centuries later. The film producers strongly deny that there is any scene that is unsubstantiated and causing hurt to the Hindu queen’s sacred memory. Padmavati is believed to have committed ‘Jauhar,’ self-immolation, along with 800 other women, to save themselves from the wrath of the invaders.
Be history as it may, the protests now have taken a new dimension with one union minister entering the scene, deriding the producers, with BJP, the ruling party in Delhi and Rajasthan, demanding that the film be banned. Used to the wrath of fury of one or other fringe brigades, the producer has intelligently insured the film for Rs.160 crores, covering against riots, damages, protests etc.
Gone or the days, when a film can be bravely invested in and shot. Such tantrums of protests and intolerance was limited to party like Shiv Sena, but soon were taken up by other parties as a means of fund generation through intimidation and muscle flexing. There is always someone, or some party, which disagrees with the plot, the story line or the film title etc. SRK’s Billu barber was attacked by a community and the recalcitrant MNS Sena chief got into the picture to “settle’ the issue for a consideration. Karnataka fringe elements stalled the release of Bahubali 2 to make a kill before the release, on some flimsy grounds.
It’s a shame that a censor board is not enough and the film releases are further fraught with dangers of disruption from one or another. Then there is an idiosyncratic judiciary that considers itself to be all prevailing. I wonder why the courts have not recovered a single rupee from the protestors for any illegal disruption of screenings of films in any part of the country until this day.
If history has been distorted, the censor board should withhold its certification, until changes are suitably incorporated. A few overzealous film directors should be penalized, who are chivalrous in making a quick buck out of topics controversial, or causing disruptions to the fragile peaceful fabric of our society through their films. Censor board itself has lost its credibility, acting as the mouthpiece of the party in governance. Once the certification is through, films should be shown without any hindrance or fear.
It seems, the patience of the society is often tested, frequently provoked with the sole objective of creating disturbances in the country. A strong government and a responsible judiciary could have contained this much earlier.
Lastly, history is written always by the victorious and never by the vanquished, rewritten later and as often, as it best suits the subsequent rulers. We are watching the symptoms today!