In an unfortunate turn of events, massive protests have broken out in parts of India, especially in Rajput dominated areas even as filmmakers and fellow Mumbaikars are rallying firmly behind Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The government so far hasn't cowed down in front of the protests, but the agitation is gathering steam by the day, as the release date of the film approaches. The movie is scheduled to release on December 1.
Members of the Rajput community held massive protests in Gandhinagar and Surat in Gujarat last Sunday demanding a ban on the release of Padmavati. While over one lakh members of the community converged at a massive gathering at Gandhinagar, thousands took part in the protest march in Surat to raise their demand of staying the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film. Mansinh Rathod, who is leading the Gujarat chapter of 'Karni Sena', claimed that Mr 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 movie to hit the theatres," Mr Rathod said. He said not just Gujarat, the movie must not be released anywhere in the country. "To raise our demand, Karni Sena and other Rajput and Hindu organisations called a gathering in Gandhinagar. We had also organised a protest march in Surat. It is our clear warning that if this movie gets released on December 1, there will be violent protests and government will be responsible for the law and order situation," he added. 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. With the Assembly polls approaching in Gujarat, Rajput agitators also warned the ruling BJP to face consequences if the movie gets released.
According to Virendrasinh Bhati of Karni Sena, Mr Bhansali has backtracked from his promise of showing the movie to the Rajput community to get a clearance first. "We are very much sure that there is dream sequence in the movie. If Bhansali claimed that the movie is as per the historical facts, then why he has not fulfilled his promise of showing it to us. We want the government to take a clear stand and ban the movie. If the movie gets released, Rajputs will show what they can do," said Mr Bhati.
"We want a complete ban on the movie. If the Centre or state government fails to step in, the BJP may have to face the ire of the community during the Gujarat polls," Rajput leader from Surat Yashwantsinh Vala said. In the meantime, the Mumbai associations have called for a solidarity meeting today to express its support for Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
The Indian Film and TV Director's association has expressed its outrage over the fringe group pressurising the government and they have decided to speak out against the harassment Sanjay Leela Bhansali with the hashtag #WeSupportPadmavati. A lot of Bollywood actors have already spoken out against the massive pressure that the film has been subjected to lately by the fringe groups who don't want the film to release. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has also released a video message for the fringe groups explaining that there is no dream sequence between Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji. The message has become viral but it has failed to quell the protests.
The CEO of Sanjay Leela Bhansali productions have also agreed to show the film to anybody after the Censor Certification but that too doesn't seem to have any effect on the protestors. Meanwhile, Deepika Padukone recently visited the Padmavathi Temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. The actor sought the blessings of Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Padmavathi for her upcoming film. Sources said that she wanted to visit the temple of the Goddess before the release of her much-awaited film.
One can now only hope for the best that the film will released without a hitch in India while in some parts of the country a smooth release seems unlikely, especially in the poll bound Gujarat and parts of Rajasthan.