Support for director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been pouring in ever since he was roughed up by a group called Rajput Karni Sena, apparently for harming their sentiments and distorting facts of their history. Bhansali was slapped on the face, and his set vandalised, during the shoot of Padmavati in Jaipur.
Citing creative freedom, several artists such as Huma Qureshi, Shabhana Azmi, and Priyanka Chopra lent their support to SLB, criticising the group for upholding ‘such parochial views’.
Who has made these ‘gundas’ the upholders of my country’s morality and history .. my India is not so parochial #SanjayLeelaBhansali
— Huma Qureshi (@humasqureshi) January 27, 2017
Having been through many instances of turmoil during a film shoot or release…i understand Sanjay’s emotion at this point…I stand by him.
— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) January 27, 2017
Film industry must stand as 1 n do whatever it takes to ensure that d reprehensible attack on SLB becomes a flashpoint for goondagiri 2 stop
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) January 28, 2017
A tweet by film critic Baradwaj Rangan rings truth over the violence meted against the filmmaker:
If empathetic imagination/interpretation is out of bounds in art, then why do we need filmmakers? Your history teacher can make a movie, no?
— Baradwaj Rangan (@baradwajrangan) January 28, 2017
The shooting was taking place at Jaipur Fort when it was stalled after Karni Sena activists barged into the premises and assaulted Bhansali. “Our basic protest is about distortion of historic facts, which will not be tolerated,” said a member of the group, Vikram Singh. The period film has Deepika Padukone portraying Rani Padmavati, with Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji. The film reportedly features a dream sequence with Rani Padmini and Alauddin Khilji in a romantic scene.
Interestingly, while Rajasthan’s Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria condemned Karni Sena for acting “outside the purview of law”, he added that such anger is “instinctive in such a case”, before promising a proper investigation in the case.
Speaking to ANI News, founder of Rajput Karni Sena, Lokendra Singh Kalvi, took it a notch. “Does he have the capacity to film a movie against Adolf Hitler in Germany? Things that did not exist in history should not be depicted in films. We said the same thing during the shooting of Jodha Akhbar,” he was quoted saying.
Kya Sanjay Leela Bhansali ki haisiyat hai Germany jaake Hitler ke khilaf film banane ki?: Lokendra Singh Kalvi, Founder Rajput Karni Sena pic.twitter.com/Yl1lupS2hS
— ANI (@ANI_news) January 28, 2017
This isn’t the first time the this film came under attack. In September last year, 23-year-old ‘activist’ Hardik Patel who made national headlines in 2015 for leading the Patidar Reservation Agitation, asked Bhansali to stop shooting Padmavati to assuage the concerns of the Rajput Sena. In an interview with the Mumbai Mirror, Patel said, “Rajasthan-based Rajput Sena’s members met me and informed that SLB has not studied the history, and could damage the image of Rani Padmavati. So, we’ve informed him to stop the production of the film and hold discussions with Rajput leaders before he begins shooting.”
Bhansali’s 2015 release Bajirao Mastani faced similar criticism, that of ‘tampering with historical facts’. A petition was even filed by a Pune resident, Firoze Mohammad Shaikh, seeking a ban on the film.
Meanwhile, SLB insists that he is fine and has halted the film’s shoot due to the safety of his crew, before adding that the film does not contain any intimate scenes.