New Delhi: Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmavati, slated for December 1 release, is one of the most-awaited films in the winter of 2017.
However, the movie, based on a 16th century poem about a 14th century Rajput queen, has ruffled political feathers, particularly in the poll-bound state of Gujarat.
Former Gujarat chief minister Shanarsinh Vaghela, a Rajput, may have been among the first to raise objections to the film, but he is certainly not alone.
The BJP, too, has written to the Election Commission of India and the Gujarat state election commission, seeking a ban on the film’s release before the two-phased Gujarat assembly polls on December 9 and 14.
The BJP’s demand is that the film first be screened for representatives of Gujarat’s Rajput community before being cleared for release. This would, the BJP says, calm tempers and prevent any flare up of tensions before the elections.
Last month, multiplex owners in Gujarat received a letter from the Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena, claiming that Bhansali’s Padmavati distorts Hindu and Rajput history.
The letter warned that if the film releases in Gujarat, multiplex owners would have to face massive protests and possibly even have to suffer loss of property. Multiplex owners say there is a full month before the release of the film and they take solace in the fact that such controversies often get resolved. However, the fact that Gujarat is headed to polls means that the issue may continue to remain hot till December.
Leading the charge for the BJP is Rajput leader IK Jadeja. The BJP has demanded, Jadeja said, that the film’s release should either be stalled till after the election or be banned completely.
“After having met representatives of the community, we have decided to oppose any distortion of history in the film. The Rajput community has said that according to history Rani Padmini never met Alauddin Khilji. Gujarat is headed to polls. That is why, this film should not distort history in a way that hurts the sentiments of Rajputs,” Jadeja said.
The Congress, on the other hand, has said that the BJP’s attempts to get the film banned are nothing but “drama”. Lashing out at the BJP, Congress MLA Shaktisinh Gohil said, “I have already written to the Prime Minister on the matter, but I have received no reply. The BJP is in power in both the Centre and the state. If they want, they can easily ban the film. They (BJP) only want to use the Rajput community as a vote bank.”