The Shri Rajput Karni Sena on Wednesday called for a Bharat bandh (shutdown) on December 1 if Sanjay Leela Bhansali's movie Padmavati releases on that date. The Maharashtra government provided a precautionary security cover for film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali in view of the increasing controversies and growing threats.
"We will hold rallies across the country, including Gurugram, Patna, Lucknow and Bhopal before the release date," said Lokendra Singh Kalvi, founder-patron of the Shri Rajput Karni Sena - an organisation of the Rajput community.
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He said all communities, including Muslims, supported the Sena on the issue. "We demand a complete ban on the film. Now, we don't want any pre-screening of the movie. All we want is a ban," he said.
He claimed that as per the Cinematography Act, the government can withhold the release of a movie for three months even after a go-ahead by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and it can be extended further. "We request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the matter," Kalvi said.
Bhansali has been facing the ire of various groups and self-styled experts on what they term as 'erroneous' depiction of Rajput queen Rani Padmavati.
There have been protests and violence against Bhansali and opposition to the film right from the time it was being shot at various locales in different parts of India and now, as it prepares for a global release soon.
Barring these groups and individuals, the entire film fraternity and civil society members have expressed support to Bhansali for his latest film venture.
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The Indian Film and Television Directors' Association (IFTDA) has thanked Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for providing security cover to Bhansali, who lives and works in Mumbai.
"We commend your assurance to keep the law and order situation in control, and that speaks volumes of the efficiency of your staff and the police personnel," film-maker Ashoke Pandit, on behalf of the fraternity, said in a letter to Fadnavis. Pandit also urged the state government to "help the victim" release his film without anybody's intrusion.
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Rajasthan State Commission for Women chief Suman Sharma, in a letter, urged CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi to watch the movie and ensure there was no assault on the dignity of women through the film. Sharma also demanded that women from the Rajput community too should be included in the pre-screening of the movie.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's Rajasthan unit chief Ashok Parnami told the media that the Vasundhara Raje government will not tolerate any distortion of historical facts.
Heena Singh Judeo, daughter-in-law of Dilip Singh Judeo of Chhattisgarh's erstwhile royal family, expressed dissent over the depiction of a Rajput queen in the movie.
"History has witnessed that none of the Rajput maharanis has ever danced in front of anyone, and they cannot play with history," she said, indicating the Ghoomar song which features the film's lead actress Deepika Padukone.
Earlier, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea to stall the film's release.
Amid all this controversy another member of the Rajput Karni Sena has openly threatened to chop off Deepika's nose if the release of the film is not stopped.
"Rajputs never raise a hand on women but if need be, we will do to Deepika what Lakshman did to Shurpanakha," Mahipal Singh Makrana of Rajput Karni Sena said in a self-made video.
Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha members also protested against the movie in Jaipur and signed names with their blood with the intention to send it to the Central Board of Film Certification.
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Padmavati does not seem to have a clear path ahead. The Uttar Pradesh government today apprised the Centre that the release of Bollywood film Padmavati on December 1 will pose a law and order problem for the state.
In a letter written to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, UP Principal Secretary (Home), Arvind Kumar said the Censor board should be apprised about the public resentment over the alleged distortion of facts in the movie.
"It has come to the notice through intelligence reports that the film's producers have presented the movie for Censor Board clearance. After the release of the trailer of the movie on October 9, various social and other organisations opposed the film," the letter said.
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