Padmavati, the movie, is receiving protests from dominant Rajput groups in Rajasthan. A major portion of such protesting population is comprised of the Karni Sena, the members of which do not want the films to hit the theatres as, according to their beliefs, it may distort the cultural history of Rajasthan and provide wrong or misleading information to the masses. More than 50 activists of Rajput Karni Sena have already vandalized a cinema hall and a mall which showed the trailer for the movie in their premises.
The row is being created due to a dream sequence in the movie depicting romantic relations between Rani Padmini and Alauddin Khilji.
Rajput communities, which are protesting against the release of the film, are backed by the government, which seeks to retain its position in the next assembly elections going to be held in the state next year. Rumours say that the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pushing such caste groups against the movie as they hold good social reputation and may lead the party to win in the next elections as well.
In support of the protest, Karni Sena spokesperson Vijendra Singh Kalyanvat said, “You see, this is a matter concerning our asmita [honour], we can’t let anyone besmirch our honour. We won’t let some filmmaker with foreign funding to make a film that shames us, Karni Sena will never let that happen. The film has to be banned.” There are no evidences proving the ‘foreign funding’ argument of the spokesperson.
The historians as well as the makers of the movie claim that Rani Padmini is a fictional character and no historical accounts prove her existence.The film, Padmavati, is not based on historical accounts. It is an adaptation of an epic poem, called Padmavat, which was written by the poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in the 16th century. While calling such baseless protests ‘absurd’, Professor Aditya Mukherjee from the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) said, “In the contemporary period, there is no mention of this event, no accounts of Padmavati by Amir Khusrau, a prolific writer of the era and a courtier of Alauddin Khilji. This is misuse of both fiction and history. There is no historical evidence of this Padmavati event – this story is a poet’s imagination. This is manufacturing of hurt sentiments clearly with an eye on politics.”
On the other hand, the director of the movie Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Lead Actress (playing the role of Rani Padmini) Deepika Padukone are constantly battling against false allegations of distortion of cultural history of Rajasthan. Deepika said, “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. This is not about Padmavati, we’re fighting a much bigger battle.”
The bigger battle of Bollywood against freedom of imagination and creativity is what she may have hinted at. This is why the big names of bollywood like Karan Johar, Javed Akhtar, Salman Khan, Madhur Bhandarkar, Rajkummar Rao and many others have come forward in support of the filmmaker. Bollywood has received a lot of protests in the past, hindering the creative freedom of the filmmakers and making independent cinema a lot more complicated.
A rajput group has now announced Rs. 5 crore reward to whosoever gets either Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Deepika Padukone beheaded. Amid all these threats and protests, Deepika Padukone is still seen promoting the movie in full swing. The actress celebrated her 10 years in bollywood (starting with the movie ‘Om Shanti Om’) with her fans and was promoting her film throughout.
The film releases on 1st December, 2017 all over India with no news of postponement of the set date.