Violence over Padmaavat: Much ado about nothing?
New Delhi, Jan 24: Padmavati became Padmaavat, but there is no end to the protest and violence against the Bollywood film by the Hindu right-wing groups.
Welcome to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's dream "New India" where a film has hijacked the entire nation. Reason: Hindu right-wing groups like the Shri Rajput Karni Sena and political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress feel that the Bollywood magnum opus by maverick director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has hurt the sentiments of Hindus by poorly depicting queen Padmini (Padmavati), the central character of the film.
Even after the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) approved the screening of the film after stalling it for more than a month when protests led by the Shri Rajput Karni Sena turned ugly last year, several BJP-ruled states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh decided to continue with their "ban" on the film slated to release on January 25.
Earlier, the film was supposed to hit the theatres on December 1 last year.
Thereafter, the makers of the film approached the Supreme Court which asked the states to screen the controversial film and provide adequate security to stop any kind of violence.
Again, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan governments approached the apex court. The court rejected their petitions refusing to modify its earlier order that nullified the ban on the film.
The shameful drama surrounding the film is refusing to die down even hours before the movie is set to hit theatres across India.
On Tuesday, protests against the film turned violent in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The state police registered six FIRs against 100 people. During Tuesday's violence, mob attacked multiplexes and malls, blocked roads and torched vehicles. Reports say the police fired two rounds in the air to disperse the hooligans.
A few reports say that owners of multiplexes in Gujarat are unlikely to screen the film to avoid the ire of the protesters. In view of the protests over Padmaavat, the police issued advisories to increase security arrangements across Maharashtra, and identified certain districts, such as Aurangabad, Nashik and Kolhapur, as "sensitive pockets", stated a report by The Indian Express.
Now, Rajput organisations from Rajasthan have urged the Centre to introduce an ordinance and impose a ban on the film. The Rajput groups claim that the issue is no longer restricted to their community but ostensibly involves all Hindus.
As the fate of the Bollywood saga hangs in balance, film critics have watched the film and have given their verdict. The film has got mixed reviews and many critics are of the opinion that the real-life drama surrounding Padmaavat is more compelling than the reel one.
NDTV's film critic Raja Sen wrote, "Much ado about much ado.The creation and eventual release of Padmaavat may well make for a more dramatic and impassioned tale than the film itself."
"The problem lies not in Padmaavat being a costume drama, but in the fact that there is too much costume, too little drama," he added.
The Indian Express' film critic Shubhra Gupta gave the Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor starrer film 2.5 stars.
"Padmaavat is spectacular: no one can do spectacle like Bhansali. This was what he was born to do. You can easily delight in it while the going is good. But nearly three hours of it, and looping rhetoric around what constitutes Rajput valour can and does become tiresome," she wrote.
Maintaining a little less harsh tone on the film, critic Kriti Tulsiani in her review for News18 stated that in spite of the film's flaws, Padmaavat is not a "bad watch".
"It's actually everything a Bhansali fan would expect and honestly, it does warrant an enriching cinematic experience despite falling short on certain things here and there."
Going by all the controversies surrounding the film in the backdrop of violence and protests and not so encouraging reviews by critics, all we can say is that Padmaavat is a tale of "much ado about nothing".