Why is Bollywood mum?

The Asian Age.

Entertainment, Bollywood

The convenor of the Karni Sena, Lokendra Singh Kalvi, has also called for a Bharat bandh on December 1, the date Padmavati is slated for release.

Padmavati poster

Beleaguered film Padmavati has now received open threats from Shri Rajput Karni Sena, but sadly everyone  — the film fraternity, and even the co-stars — have  remained silent on the issue.

The controversy surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s historical magnum opus, Padmavati seems far from getting over anytime soon. While initially, everyone thought that this issue was similar to any other row that takes place before the release of a historic film and would resolve soon, the whole episode took an ugly turn with the Shri Rajput Karni Sena threatening to behead Sanjay Leela Bhansali and chop off Deepika Padukone’s nose for “violating Indian culture”.

The convenor of the Karni Sena, Lokendra Singh Kalvi, has also called for a Bharat bandh on December 1, the date Padmavati is slated for release. Abhishek Som, a Meerut-based Thakur leader, has offered Rs 5 crore to anyone who beheads the historical epic director and injures actress Deepika. The Mumbai Police promptly responded to these threats by giving her special security.

The film has been beset by trouble ever since the film went on the floors. In January this year, the director was roughed up during shooting in Jaipur, Rajasthan. This was followed by vandalism of the sets in the Pink City, and then in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.

But who really is the Karni Sena? According to Wikipedia, the Jaipur-based outfit favours “national unity” and is opposed to caste-centric positive discrimination and “corruption”. Although their recent acts show otherwise, even the Rajasthan government has remained mum because the body translates to a substantial vote bank.

Even more disconcerting is the fact that the Indian film fraternity, known to stand up for each other in difficult times, is also shying away from making any negative comments. While many are coming out in support of Bhansali, they are cautious not to upset the Karni Sena. When so much is being spoken about freedom of speech and expression worldwide, where do such controversies put India on the map?

Jodha Akbar too was in trouble because of the Karni Sena

Deepika remains undeterred
Amidst such threats and violence comes the news that Deepika intends to continue doing the promotional events as planned, though she will now move around more cautiously and with a beefed up security. A friend of Deepika says, “Deepika is not the least bit scared. She has been provided security but her movement remains far from restricted. She will continue to promote Padmavati, though the entire team has advised her to exercise caution in her pronouncements. So, she won’t make any comments on the vandals masquerading as protesters.”

Where are Ranveer and Shahid?
Meanwhile, there is plenty of speculation as to why Deepika’s two co-stars are so silent when she has been openly threatened with physical violence. Says Deepika’s friend, “She can’t speak on Shahid Kapoor, as they are not close friends. But as far as Ranveer is concerned, he is extremely worried and concerned. However, he has been forbidden by the Padmavati team from making any comments.

Already, there is way too much speculation about how an A-lister hero could play a villain. Further, to quell the slanderous rumour of a romantic liaison between Ranveer’s and Deepika’s characters, the team has advised them not to promote the film together. If the public sees them together, they will presume that the couple has scenes together, which they do not.”

Reportedly, gag orders have been given to the whole Padmavati team, as the movie has procured enough publicity already.

No help from the fraternity
Meanwhile, many celebrities like Anupam Kher and Karan Johar, who are quite vocal otherwise, were seen walking away speedily, as soon as they were asked whether or not the release of Padmavati should be stalled. Only Alia Bhatt commented, “Iss mamle mein Rani Padmavati hi jaane (Rani Padmavati may know better on this topic).”

Arbaaz Khan

‘Don’t fuel the fire’
Arbaaz Khan, Actor

“While the actors may have some opinion about it, sometimes you don’t need to add fire to all these things. The more you talk about it, the more you fuel it...some of it should just be ignored. Right from the beginning, it was serious. They started damaging sets and have given enough evidence to show that they might create some nuisance. Is the government going to wait for that to happen and then react? It might be too late. Taking the law into your hand is never an option; instead you should follow the law of the land.”

‘Hoping for the best’
At the Padmavati 3D trailer launch, Ajit Andhare, COO, Viacom18 Motion Pictures

“We are taking all measures to ensure safety of everyone associated with this film. I just hope that people see it in right light. The film celebrates Rajput glory and it's unfortunate that people are misguided about it because of some speculation. It's a very positive film and I am hoping that things will prevail as we go along.

‘Bollywood needs to fight back’
Shobhaa De, Columnist

“The Karni Sena and other similar outfits should be granted zero legitimacy. I place most of the blame on scandal-hungry news channels. These people are nothing but opportunistic hoodlums. Strict action must be taken against them. They are the real instigators of violence — jail a few and then see them retreat and run.

Bollywood needs to stand together to tackle such outfits and the fight must be legal. Not through pitched street battles. Bollywood also needs more teeth. And it needs to convince state authorities about its right to make films without having to deal with unconstitutional protests.”

— With inputs from Subhash K. Jha and Pooja Salvi