Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the entire team of Padmaavat have had quite an eventful last year and the first month of this year is no different. Bhansali’s magnum opus ‘Padmavati’ (now Padmaavat) has been subject to controversy since the day shooting began. It started in late 2016 with various fringe groups and political leaders accusing the filmmaker of allegedly ‘distorting history’ and maligning the image of the Rajput queen Padmavati. Sanjay Leela Bhansali was even slapped and assaulted by the members of Karni Sena while shooting for the flick in Jaipur on January 27 last year. The violent Karni Sena activists had also vandalised the sets of the movie.
Protesters had then entered in large numbers and started getting violent before the crew of Padmavati could even blink. The mob soon surrounded Bhansali and slapped the defenceless director. The video of the incident also went viral on social media. The costly film equipment were also smashed to the ground by the Karni Sena. In yet another incident of violence on film-sets, an unidentified group torched and reduced to ashes the massive outdoor film set of Padmaavat. The incident occurred on March 15, last year, at the picturesque Masaipathar area, around 15 km on the outskirts of Panhala town in Kolhapur district.
In September, last year, members of Rajput Karni Sena shouted slogans against Bhansali and burned his effigies and posters of the movie outside the Rajmandir Cinema Hall in Jaipur. Amidst wide-spread protest, the Mumbai BJP unit, on November 6, 2017, called out I&B Minister Smriti Irani to ban the movie. Following widespread criticism against his yet-to-release film “Padmavati”, film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, on November 9, 2017, released a video saying, ‘Padmavati’ (now Padmaavat) is my tribute to the sacrifice, valour and honour of Rani Padmavati: Sanjay Leela Bhansali.”
The row refused to tone down even after Bhansali’s ‘clearing the air’ video. The members of Karni Sena vandalised a cinema hall in Kota just for showing the trailers of the movie on November 14, 2017. The controversy over Bollywood film ‘Padmavati’ took an ugly turn on November 18, last year, when a member of Shri Rajput Karni Sena cited Ramayana’s Surpanakha nose-chopping incident and warned Deepika Padukone against “inciting” sentiments. The Mumbai Police increased actor Deepika Padukone’s security after the outfit issued the nose chopping threat. Haryana’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Chief Media Coordinator Suraj Pal Amu, on November 19, went a step further passing derogatory remarks against the movie crew. He said, “I want to congratulate the Meerut youth for announcing Rs 5 crore bounty for beheading Deepika, and Bhansali. We will reward the ones beheading them, with Rs 10 crore, and also take care of their family’s needs.”
On December 30, 2017, the Central Board of Film Certification cleared the movie but changed its title from ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmaavat’. The release date of the movie got fixed on January 25. Even after CBFC, clearance, four BJP ruled states – Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan decided to ban the release of the movie on the grounds that the movie will hurt sentiments of the people. Now, the Supreme Court has stayed the ban on Bollywood period drama, Padmaavat, in the four states. All states are constitutionally obliged to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident during the screening of the film across the country, the bench hearing the matter observed.
Bhansali’s film starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh is a cinematic adaptation of the epic poem Padmavat written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi.