New Delhi, Jan 27: The protests over the controversial film, Padmaavat, had 'hijacked' the nation in the recent times. Finally, the film, earlier named as Padmavati, hit the theatres amid heightened security on Thursday.
Those who are closely tracking the controversy over the Bollywood magnum opus by maverick director Sanjay Leela Bhansali have called it many things at the same time--a cultural war to register Rajput or Hindu supremacy or politics over Padmaavat to woo a particular community (the Rajput to be precise).
Veteran film director Shyam Benegal in an interview to IANS stated that a "deep-rooted political conspiracy" is behind the violent protests against the film, mostly witnessed in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The national award-winning film director, Benegal, himself has worked in the same subject--"Allauddin Khilji's violent obsession for Rani Padmavati" several years ago.
But back then Rajput and Hindu right-wing groups did not express any anger over his project, as witnessed against Bhansali's film since last year.
Benegal told IANS: "You must understand this is not an issue of tolerance or intolerance. It is something else entirely. I've filmed the same saga way back in 1988 for my series Bharat Ek Khoj on Doordarshan. Om Puri had played Allauddin Khilji.
"The protests have nothing to do with the content of the film. I see a deep-rooted political conspiracy in what is happening to Bhansali's film," Benegal added.
"This is nothing but an attempt to appease the Rajput vote bank. Why are no arrests being made when even school children are being targeted?" Benegal asked.
On Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the film was set to release in theatres across the country, members belonging to right-wing groups decided to attack a school bus with children in Gurgaon.
Like Bhansali's film, Benegal's work was also based on the poem "Padmaavat" by Malik Mohammed Jayasi. Benegal informs that when he was working for the Doordarshan series, Bhansali had assisted him in the "Padmavati" episode.
Now, the question is why Hindu right-wing groups were silent then, but protested vehemently recently? It is anybody's guess.
The protest over Bhansali's film started during its making last year. The members of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena had assaulted Bhansali and vandalised his film's set twice last year.
The groups opposing the film say that Bhansali has depicted their revered queen Padmini in a "derogratory" manner and has hurt the Hindu and Rajput sentiments. All these allegations were labelled against the makers of the film without anyone watching it.
The protests against Padmaavat started once again after the release of the trailer of the film in the later part of 2017. The film was earlier set to release on December 1 last year.
The Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) stalled its release and finally gave it a go ahead after asking the makers to make several changes including change in the title of the film.
In spite of that, protesters asked for a ban in the film across India. The Supreme Court intervened and asked for its release after makers of Padmaavat approached it.
Still, several BJP-ruled states stated that they can't allow the film to get released as it poses law and order problem.