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For a long time now the controversy revolving around the much-hyped film Padmavati has raged on; The new update is the film getting deferred indefinitely. As the year comes to an end, it is baffling to note how this controversy has continued for a year. In January this year, the sets of the movie were vandalized with the famed and reputed director Sanjay Leela Bhansali getting thrashed by the members of Shri Rajput Karni Sena. This incident sent shock waves throughout the film fraternity.
This act was outrightly a hideous and punishable one. There was a thorough condemnation of this incident and yet, to everyone’s shock, no apt action was initiated against the guilty. What had been more disgraceful and demeaning was the concurrent attitude of the ministers of Rajasthan who felt that the filmmaker himself was to be blamed for this incident as he had hurt the sentiments of the people. On further probing, it was revealed that this incident was promulgated because of rumours of a love scene depicted in the film between Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh who have essayed the role of Queen Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji respectively.
Soon after the incident, actors associated with the film released statements corroborating the fact that history, in no way, had been distorted and the valorous Rajput queen has not been shown in a compromising position with the Muslim ruler. The power vested with such religious groups is inordinately high. Such is the situation in India that even the director did not file a complaint against the protestors and immediately left the city after a diminutive apology. The police had booked a couple of men for the incident but they were soon released too.
While strict action should have been taken against the offenders, no formal inquiry was set up for reasons that put us to shame. Time and again, Indian laws have been accused of being biased towards political bigwigs and the likes and this was conspicuous in the inefficient action taken by the police.
Cut to the present, the situation has further exacerbated with members of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena having vandalized theatres, burnt posters and threatened the leading cast of the movie. Such a situation in a country which has the freedom of expression embedded as a fundamental right increases concerns over the country’s progressive nature. There are however two ironical aspects connected to the entire episode.
The first one concerns the existence of Queen Padmavati. Famed historians have concurred with the belief that there is no confirmed evidence of the Queen’s existence. Although she has been mentioned in Muhammad Jayasi’s poetic version, there are no facts to corroborate it.Other than that, there are some loopholes in his version. While Alauddin captured Chittor in 1306 and died in 1316, Queen Padmavati is said to be born around the 14th century.
While this itself raises serious doubts, there is no mention of Queen Padmavati in many other writers’ versions as well.Secondly and more importantly, the Rajput Karni Sena who have been unabashedly protesting against the release of the film hail from a state that has an extremely poor sex ratio with least importance given to women’s rights or education. While the state has been grappling with issues concerning women’s rights, the members of the religious wings are creating a ruckus over the honour of Queen who might not even have existed.
While the director was brutally assaulted in one incident, members of a couple of political parties based out of Rajasthan and Haryana have threatened to behead Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone. Only recently did a minister offer a rewarding sum of ten crores to anyone who would behead Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone. Such gross statements emanating from political parties and leaders not only are shameful but also criminal.
Under section 506 of the IPC, Whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. Unfortunately, the actors continued to receive threats without any arrests having materialized as yet. The only consolidation they received was police security amid such threats which certainly is not enough considering the freedom our constitution vests the citizens with.
Whether or not history has been distorted in the magnum opus should be left to the discretion of the Censor Board and not any political party. Even if the makers have shown Queen Padmavati in poor light, there has to be a proper and just method to make amendments to it. Vandalizing pieces of equipment and openly giving threats puts the freedom of speech and expression to shame. The opprobrious conduct of the multifarious religious groups needs to come to a halt with strict police intervention.
Two pleas, banning the film and scrapping out objectionable parts from the movie have already refused by the Supreme Court and that is a welcome relief. The country, citizens and the industry continue to have full faith in the judiciary; the fundamental rights of every individual needs to be protected with full force.
– Shrishti Vatsa
Content Writer @ Legal Bites