25th January saw the release of the most awaited, criticized and scrutinized artwork on the celluloid screen. A movie that was earlier called Padmavati had to undergo a plethora of changes to be able to make it to the common people of the country. Around 300 cuts, CGI effects and in numerous allegations were what the movie had to receive in order to finally make it to the theatres. Clad with a star cast comprising the youth’s favourite cine stars- Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor and amalgamated with the vision of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Padmavat was one of the most awaited movies of 2018. It wasn’t too long before it turned from being the most awaited, to the most criticized.
Based on a poem written by poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in the 16th Century, Padmavat centres around a Rajput queen. The movie is a period drama which tells a tale of Ala-ud-din Khilji, Raja Ratan Singh and Padmavati. This movie sparkled protests across the country due to apparent “distortion of facts”. The most heinous example of the threats being a Rs. 10 crore bounty on Deepika Padukone and Bhansali’s head. This bounty was declared by a senior BJP leader in Haryana, Suraj Pal Amu. All this protest and such threats of bounty on heads resulted in the delay of the release date which was earlier 1st December but was later shifted to January 25.
The protests trace their way back to January when Bhansali was slapped by the members of the Karni Sena in Rajasthan. Later, the angry members ransacked the sets of the movie for offending the Rajput community. Protests followed in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Haryana. A lot of big names are involved in these protests. After receiving evident agitation from the Rajput community, The Cheif Minister of Rajasthan appealed to the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani to ensure that the film is not released till necessary changes are made so that the communal sentiments of the viewers are not hurt. Following this, the Deputy Cheif Minister, Keshav Prasad Maurya also demanded necessary cuts to be made to the film to ensure harmony among communities.
The film agitated the people so much so that they filed a petition in the Supreme court to seek a ban on the film altogether. Among the first to raise a voice against this outrage was the lead actor of the film, Deepika Padukone who said,”For how long will 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? How long can we allow some people to get away with what they have been doing?”
The media is the fourth pillar of democracy but communities, people, societal norms and sentiments of people are clipping it down to dust. Burning effigies, filing baseless petitions, vandalism in the name of God, chanting abuses and threatening people is what keeps flashing on our television screens every now and then. The media is a stage. A stage where stories are artfully presented to bring people together, to entertain and to create a peaceful environment not for what is being done by the people outside the screen. Padmavat is just the tip of the iceberg depicting how illogical the people of a society can be. The problems will only get worse if the people don’t listen or learn to grow.