New Delhi, Nov 20: Indians love two things dearly--cinema and cricket.
While cricket is enjoying a smooth run with a lot of victories achieved by the Team India, under the leadership of Virat Kohli in the recent times, the Indian cinema is experiencing a tumultuous period.
What is ailing the country's film industry? Is it lack of content, finances or talented filmmakers and actors? Fortunately, in terms of talent pool, the country has some of the finest directors, writers, actors, and technicians.
The new breed of filmmakers, be it from the Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali or Hindi film industries, is ensuring that content remains the king. Finances too are not very difficult for filmmakers to arrange if they approach the right people.
When filmmakers across the country are trying to compete with their international counterparts, our politicians are ensuring that the rights of artists are brutally trampled to serve their political agenda.
It is not just Padmavati, the big budget Bollywood saga, facing the ire of political and religious groups, small and highly-appreciated art house movies like S Durga and Nude were dropped by the ministry of information and broadcasting from the annual film festival, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) recently, after being selected by a group of jury.
Protesting over the "unilateral" decision of the ministry, several jury members resigned from their posts before the festival is scheduled to begin in Goa on Monday.
Apparently, I&B minister Smriti Irani and her colleagues in the BJP found the titles of the two films too "provocative" for the saffron party's sanskari sensibilities to be screened at a festival hosted by the right-wing government.
The upcoming Bollywood film, Padmavati, has managed to garner a lot of media attention because of the film's big canvas and constant attacks on the movie by the goons of right-wing groups, who are well-backed by leaders of both the BJP and the Congress.
In spite of putting a lot of effort into the making of Padmavati, the makers of the film after witnessing unabated protests and threats decided to defer its release on Sunday. The film was supposed to hit the theatres on December 1.
While the Censor Board has not used its 'scissors' to cut the film to massage the ego of Rajputs and Hindus groups, its "lame excuse" that the application of Padmavati was incomplete before returning it to the makers recently smacks of political conspiracy.
There is a lot at stake for the BJP in the upcoming Gujarat Assembly elections, scheduled on December 9 and December 14. The saffron party doesn't want to miff its Hindu voters by disrespecting their wish to "ban" the film as the director of the film Sanjay Leela Bhansali has allegedly "distorted history" to defame Hindu women by showing "love scenes" between queen Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji, the 14th century Muslim king of Delhi.
Moreover, the BJP government at the Centre did not want to portray itself as an enemy of artistic freedom, so it cunningly allowed the right-wing groups to constantly issue death threats against Bhansali and his heroine Deepika Padukone and asked the Censor Board to stall the release of Padmavati till elections in Modi's home turf get over.
Thus, the movie in all likelihood would release post-Gujarat elections. In fact, Twitterati on Sunday, while lamenting over the news of an inordinate delay in the release of the film stated that Padmavati would "release after Gujarat elections".
#Padmavati will release post Gujarat voting when the "insult" to Rajputs will mysteriously vanish! Shelving the release is more signs that we are turning in to banana republic— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) November 19, 2017
Basically #Padmavati will release after Gujarat elections— Suparn Verma (@Suparn) November 19, 2017
Padmavati is a great lesson for all filmmakers as why not to be creative and brilliant in India. Because if you are a "genius" like Bhansali and want to push the creative boundaries of filmmaking, then you make sure you have paid for all your funeral rites in advance.