Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath said director Sanjay Leela Bhansali habitually played with people’s sentiments, but added that his government condemned the bounties on him and actor Deepika Padukone.
Politics over controversial Bollywood film Padmavati gathered steam on Tuesday as Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath blamed the film’s director for waves of violent protests that forced the movie’s release to be put off and resulted in death threats against the crew.
Speaking at the Gorakhnath temple in UP’s Gorakhpur, Adityanath said Padmavati’s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was as responsible for the row as those issuing bounties for beheading Bhansali and actor Deepika Padukone, who plays the legendary Rajput queen Padmini.
“He (Bhansali) is a habitual (offender) in playing with people’s sentiments. I feel that if those who are issuing threats are guilty, then action should also be taken against the filmmaker,” the chief minister said. He condemned the offers of bounty but said his government would not allow anyone to “hurt the sentiments of 22 crore people of UP”.
His government, along with that of neighbouring Rajasthan, has already moved to block the movie’s release unless “objectionable” parts are edited out to assuage the sentiments of the Rajput community. Another neighbour, the Rs 150 crore film while Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has backed the protesters.
Protests headed by the Rajasthan-based Shri Rajput Karni Sena claim the movie insults Rajputs by filming a romantic sequence between Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji and Padmini, who is said to have killed herself to avoid being captured by the former. Bhansali has repeatedly denied shooting any such sequence and historians are divided over whether Padmini existed.
Censor board chief Prasoon Joshi has said it is trying to come up with a balanced decision. On Tuesday, the ministry of information and broadcasting said the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) should be allowed to do its job. “CBFC has been tasked with certain work. Let it do its job,” minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told reporters in Delhi. The CBFC has asked the makers of Padmavati to resubmit their application for a certificate, which was earlier rejected on technical grounds but senior actors such as Shabana Azmi have questioned the board’s decision to defer the process because this delays the film’s release.
Union Minister Birender Singh said those opposing the film should see it first and then demand cuts if anything was found to be objectionable. The Supreme Court has refused to block the release of the movie and Bengaluru police have beefed up security outside the house of former Badminton champion Prakash Padukone, in view of threats received by his daughter Deepika. Several people, including Haryana BJP leader Suraj Pal Amu, have offered bounties for beheading her. On Tuesday, a police complaint was filed in Gurgaon against Amu for offering a bounty of Rs 10 crore. The party has already asked him to explain his offer.
In Bengal, the row has turned into a flashpoint between Hindu groups and the ruling Trinamool Congress. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already called the situation a “super emergency” and the state government has indicated it wouldn’t tolerate any “muscle flexing” by Hindu groups.
First Published: Nov 21, 2017 20:19 IST