India’s Supreme Court turned down yet another petition seeking a stay on the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s historical epic Padmavati, as violent protests raged and a growing list of states across India vowed to block the film even if it was cleared by the censor board.
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) meanwhile ordered one of its senior members to publicly apologise after he offered a bounty of Rs100 million to anyone who beheads Deepika Padukone, the film’s lead actress, and Bhansali over its alleged handling of the relationship between the eponymous Hindu queen from the Rajput warrior clan and the Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Khilji.
Suraj Pal Amu, a BJP leader from the northern state of Haryana, offered the reward on Sunday. The film’s producers have indefinitely postponed the December 1 release of the film after violent protests erupted last week. We will not tolerate any violent remarks from our party members, but we also want the director to respect India’s history,” said Anil Jain, the head of the BJP’s state unit in Haryana, to which Amu belongs. He said the party was considering legal action.
This movie [got] embroiled into so many controversies… Rumour is in the movie a dream scene has been filmed between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji. I’ve already rejected this claim. I am reiterating that there is no such scene between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji, which would hurt the sentiments of anyone.”
– Sanjay Leela Bhansali | Director of Padmavati
Members of hardline Hindu fringe groups and the BJP have criticised the film, accusing Bhansali of distorting history by allegedly showing Khilji as the Hindu queen’s “lover”.
Controversy has never stopped stalking Padmavati ever since the film went on the floors last year. While Bhansali was slapped and his shirt torn during an outdoor filming at Jaigarh Fort in Rajasthan this January, vandals set fire to the sets at Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
A film which has distorted facts [about Rajput queen Padmavati] and shows or says anything to disrespect her, will not be released in Madhya Pradesh. The insult will not be tolerated.”
– Shivraj Singh Chouhan | Madhya Pradesh chief minister
even as a fringe group called Rajput Karni Sena turned up the heat on Bhansali, claiming he has distorted history by depicting an inappropriate dream sequence featuring Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji in early 14th century Chittor – a charge that Bhansali has rejected repeatedly.
Three state chief ministers yesterday waded into the controversy, with Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan announcing a ban on the film in his state, while his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh backed the Rajput community in its protests against Bhansali’s historical drama.
For how long would the entertainment industry be made a scapegoat for everything that happens in this country? Why attack cinema which is full of love and which brings people together? Why curb people’s freedom of expression?”
– Deepika Padukone | Lead actress of Padmavati
The state governments of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh sought a stay on the film’s release,
However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the controversy as “unfortunate” and a “calculated plan” to destroy freedom of expression. In Jammu and Kashmir, senior National Conference leader Devender Rana urged chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to ban the release of Padmavati in the state. The hardeing stance came after Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Aditynath and his Rajasthan counterpart opposed the release of the film citing threat of serious law and order problem.
Amid the raging controversy, Padukone yesterday announced her decision to pull out of the forthcoming Global Entrepreneurship Summit, that is also scheduled to feature Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, as one of the speakers, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though no reason has been officially cited by Padukone, it is widely believed that her decision is in view of the series of death threats that she has received over the last few days.