When asked about Karni Sena, the Rajput group which is spearheading protest against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmavati’, filmmaker and IFTDA convenor Ashoke Pandit yesterday told reporters, “The people in India respect our historical figures as much as you do. You’re not the custodian of history, we are also citizens of the country.” “It does not look good to threaten or beat up people. We all feel orphaned because the system, the law and order is not protecting us and state-by-state the film is getting banned,” he said. The BJP-ruled states such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have already expressed reservations about the film. Many Rajput groups have been up in arms against the movie, alleging that it distorts history by featuring a romantic dream sequence between Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji’s characters, a claimed repeatedly denied by Bhansali. The makers of “Padmavati” have already deferred its release from December 1, till further notice. Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA), Western India Cinematographers’ Association, Screen Writers’ Association, The Film and Television Producers’ Guild of India Limited, Association of Voice Artistes, Cine Costume & Make-up Artiste and Hair Dressers’ Association, Cine Singer Association, Movie Stunt Artistes Association, among others, participated in the protest, called ‘Main Azaad Hoon?’, (Am I free?) at Film City here.
Pandit said the issue was not limited to “Padmavati” but how the industry today is functioning under fear. “We have all gathered here to underline the fact that let us work, let us write and make films the way we want, because if this trend starts, then Karni Sena and the likes will start deciding how scripts will be written, which news will go out. “All the makers here are scared of this trend. It’s our right to make films, if you want to watch, go ahead, if not, if you have a problem, get a stay order from court,” he said. At the protest, several members from various associations gathered with placards and raised slogans over how the creative freedom was under threat.
“This attack is on the freedom of expression, the entire film and TV industry. We are fearful and shocked that we are not getting any kind of support from any quarter of the country, except from people who are film lovers,” Pandit said. “Every three months a film is getting banned. The fear in which the industry is functioning, we are protesting against that. Don’t take us for granted,” he added.