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Gujarat Multiplex Owners Decide not to Screen Padmaavat After Rajput Protests in Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Bagodara

A still from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus Padmavat. (Youtube)

A still from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus Padmavat. (Youtube)

Two Rajput organisations – Karni Sena and Mahakaal Sena – have been at the forefront of protests against the film in Gujarat, although as many as seven Kshatriya organisations have been handing over letters to exhibitors, asking them not to screen Padmaavat in the state.

Meghdoot Sharon

Ahmedabad: With less than a week to go before the movie Padmaavat is released, Rajput organisations have stepped up their tirade against screening of the movie despite a Supreme Court directive asking four states, which had banned the release of the movie, to ensure it is screened. Meanwhile, the Gujarat government maintains that it will study the Supreme Court order before taking an appropriate decision in the matter.

Two Rajput organisations – Karni Sena and Mahakaal Sena – have been at the forefront of protests against the film in Gujarat, although as many as seven Kshatriya organisations have been handing over letters to exhibitors, asking them not to screen Padmaavat in the state. Raj Shekhavat, convener of the Karni Sena told News18, "This is a matter that involves the sentiments of the Rajput community. The Gujarat government has understood our demands and has reciprocated positively too. Now, with the Supreme Court directive that the film should be screened, the government here should display urgency in ensuring that the movie is not released in Gujarat." He went on to add that if exhibitors are forced to screen the movie, there could be a backlash from the Rajput community and that could lead to a law and order problem. "We have been using nonviolent means for the past year or so in trying to convince the authorities not to allow this film to be released. If it still gets released, there could be violence," he warned.

Since Thursday afternoon, when the Supreme Court asked the governments of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat, who had banned Padmaavat, to ensure that the film is released and that law and order is maintained, there have been violent protests in Gujarat. Rajput organisations have attempted to disrupt traffic flow in parts of Ahmedabad and Rajkot. Besides, highways too have been blocked at Bagodara and Palitana by setting tyres on fire on highways.

On Friday, a combative Sanjay Singh Rathore, President of the Mahakaal Sena, Gujarat, thundered, "Law and order ki asi ki taisi (we do not care about law and order). We will not allow the film Padmaavat to release in Gujarat." He criticized the Supreme Court for not taking into consideration the sentiments of the Rajput community and even warned the central and state governments that they will have to face consequences if they did not back the Rajput community. "The Rajput youth are angry. No organisation will have control over them if they decide to take law in their hands. I am warning the central government and the state government that they will have to face consequences in elections if they do not back the community now," Rathore told the media on Friday.

Perhaps the worst plight in this entire controversy is that of the exhibitors, who have received letters from as many as seven Kshatriya organisations, asking them not to screen the movie. On one hand, they will end up losing revenue if the movie is not released and on the other, if they release the movie and violence occurs, they will face near zero occupancy in other films that they will be screening apart from Padmavat.

"I had a meeting with the DCP of the area where my multiplex is and he has assured us adequate police presence. As multiplex owners, we are being asked about our requirements in terms of security deployment, but honestly, we will end up losers either way. What guarantee will the police or the state government give us that our multiplexes will not be damaged," asked Rakesh Patel, director of Wide Angle Multiplex in Ahmedabad. Patel is also a member of the core committee of the Gujarat Multiplex Owners' Association.

He added that a majority of the multiplex owners across Gujarat are of the view that given the risks involved in screening the movie Padmaavat, it would be safer not to screen it at all from January 25. There are about 25 multiplexes in Ahmedabad and about 125 across Gujarat. Earlier too, when movies like Fanaa and Parzania were released, several multiplexes in Gujarat had unanimously decided not to screen these movies fearing violence and damage to their property.


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