A day after the BJP ordered senior leader Suraj Pal Amu to explain his weekend offer of Rs. 10 crores to anyone who beheads Deepika Padukone for her role in “Padmavati” and its director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the politician has issued a new threat of violence.
“The youth and warrior caste of this country have the strength to set every cinema on fire,” he said, vowing that this would be akin to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-vaunted “Clean India” initiative.
“Padmavati”, based on an epic poem, tells the legend of Padmini, a 13th-century Rajput queen, who killed herself to avoid having to submit to Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji, who was obsessed with her and killed her husband in battle. Mr Bhansali has repeatedly said that reports of the film insinuating a romance between them are incorrect.
The movie was due to open on December 1 but its producers have postponed the release after large protests, multiple threats of violence, and a declaration of a ban by the Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who are both from the BJP.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanth who has written to the centre objecting to the movie said that its director must be held as responsible as those threatening him because he has “played with the sentiments of the public.” Leading those demanding the film be banned is the Karni Sena, which vandalized its sets in January and assaulted Mr Bhansali during a shoot in Jaipur. The Sena’s allegation of “Padmavati”, which has cost 190 crores to make, denouncing the legend of the valour and honour of “Padmini” has mobilized large Rajput protests in different states including Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh yesterday sided with those attacking the film and said “insults cannot be tolerated.”
Several union ministers have said that Mr Bhansali should allow representatives of protesting groups including the Karni Sena to preview the film and that he should edit scenes deemed objectionable by them while consulting historians.
The censor board which needs to clear the film and certify it for release has yet to watch it. Twice this month, the Supreme Court has refused requests to ban “Padmavati” stating that it will not intervene till the censor board makes a decision.