Rajput community members under the aegis of ‘Karni Sena’ on Sunday held massive protests in Gandhinagar and Surat demanding a ban on the release of ‘Padmavati’ alleging that the makers had distorted historical facts.
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-directed Bollywood film ‘Padmavati’.
The movie is scheduled to release on December 1.
According to Mansinh Rathod, who is leading the Gujarat chapter of ‘Karni Sena’, 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 our queen. ‘Karni Sena’ will never allow such movie to hit the theatres,” 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 the government will be responsible for the law and order situation,” Rathod 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.
“Though the release has been scheduled on December 1, we will make sure that the movie does not see the light of the day,” Kalvi claimed.
According to Virendrasinh Bhati of Karni Sena, 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 Bhati.
With the assembly polls approaching in Gujarat, Rajput agitators also warned the ruling BJP to face consequences if the movie gets released.
“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.
Last month, former Congress leader and Rajput strongman Shankersinh Vaghela demanded a pre-release screening of ‘Padmavati’ for Hindu and Rajput community leaders to check if the makers have not distorted the facts.
He had also warned of violent protests by the people of Gujarat if the movie is released without showing it to community leaders.
Recently, Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party had given a representation to the Election Commission opposing the release ahead of Gujarat elections next month, saying that distortion of facts in the movie will hurt the sentiments of the Kshatriya Rajput communities.
‘Padmavati’ has been facing a lot of trouble since early this year. Bhansali was assaulted by activists of a Rajput community group, Karni Sena, while shooting in Jaipur.
M K Vishvaraj Singh, a royal member of Udaipur’s Mewar, penned a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union ministers, Central Board of Film Certification chief Prasoon Joshi and others, requesting them to withhold the certification and release of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial ‘Padmavati.’
Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, Human Resource and Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and superintendents of police were also mentioned in the recipient list.
“You are requested not to certify or permit the release of the film in its present form,” Singh urged, adding, “It is the responsibility of the government to safeguard the history of our country and the dignity of its citizens”.
Singh raised objections that the film is about his family and a chapter in the history of Mewar, but no one approached them to verify the facts or get permission. He further said that he doubts the accuracy of historical facts in ‘Padmavati’ as it is reportedly based on Padmawat, imagery poetry of the Sufi poet which also includes thinking and talking parrots.
He pointed out that the moviemakers have not come up with a “well established and accepted historical source” and such errors could not be pointed out if the screening is done now.
On the argument that one cannot judge a film until it has been seen, Singh said the first song ‘Ghoomar’ alone displays an incorrect portrayal of Rani Padmavati.
“If the film professes to be history and its maker goes on record to claim that he has kept in mind cultural sensitivities, it is an artistic and historical fraud to portray an incorrectly attired courtesan-like painted doll in the song as the very ‘queen’ the film purports to pay obeisance to,” he wrote.
The royal member raised concerns about the effect of the movie on the future generation, who will see a distorted history of Mewar.
“Allowing our history and culture to be misrepresented in such a manner before the public does make one question the ability and intentions of the Government,” he said.
Singh argued that misleading the public and hurting the sentiments of a community is a crime under Indian constitution, but the entire situation has only provided free publicity to the makers.
Lastly, Singh said, “Allowing commercial interests to override the sanctity of national pride and heritage would be a failure on the part of the government and will not behove well for times to come”.
Images: Members of Sri Rajput Karni Sena shout slogans during a massive protest rally against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie Padmavati, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Photographs: Santosh Hirlekar/PTI Photos