Deepika Padukone in Padmaavat. Photograph:( WION )
Ahead of the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmaavat' on January 25, leaders of the Shree Rajput Karni Sena met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday and demanded a ban on the film in the state.
"I met the UP chief minister today (January 22) and demanded a ban on the film 'Padmaavat'," Karni Sena patron Lokendra Singh Kalvi told reporters after his 20-minute meeting with Adityanath here.
People will impose "janta curfew" in cinema halls in Uttar Pradesh if the movie is screened, he said.
Kalvi, who listed nearly 40 different objections with regard to the movie, demanded that films on the lives of Maharana Pratap, Shivaji and other eminent personalities be made.
"We urge the prime minister to ban the film and we are hopeful that he will meet our request. We hope that the Centre will act. We ask the public as to whether it is on the side of Padmavati or Alauddin Khilji. Whether it is on the side of Ram or Ravan?" he posed.
"The censor board must respect public sentiments. The Supreme Court is supreme, there is no doubt in that. CBFC is also no less supreme, and it should have enquired from the state governments about the law and order. I told the CMs whom I had met that you are worried about the law and order situation, and I am concerned about 'Padmaavat'. The point of concern for both of us is same," Kalvi told reporters.
"The Supreme Court does not say that only Bhansali enjoys the right to freedom of expression. We also have the right to protest. There will be 'janta curfew' in all the cinema halls across the country by the people. We are committed to ensuring that 'Padmaavat' is not screened in the country. Now what is janta curfew? Every cinema hall owner say that I will not screen the film, and every member of the public says that I am not going to watch the film," he said.
Kalvi's aide Himanshu, who too is a senior office-bearer of the outfit, told reporters, "We have only expressed our concerns before the chief minister today. All we want to say is that you are underestimating the simmering public anger against the film. In the last one-and-a-half years, we have forewarned Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the Centre and state governments in this regard."
Asked to comment on the outcome of the meeting with Adityanath, he said, "Yogi Adityanath is bound by the Supreme Court directive (restraining states from banning the screening of the movie), but in-principle and emotionally, he is with us."
Kalvi too spoke in the same vein.
Referring to a comment made by Ranveer Singh, Kalvi said the film's actor had on July 28, 2016 told reporters, who had asked him about playing Khilji in the period drama, that he would accept any role which has two "intimate scenes" with Deepika Padukone, who plays Padmavati.
"What is their personal rapport, they may dance, play together, it is their prerogative (and) we are not bothered about it. But, we will certainly not allow this (intimate scenes) to happen between Alauddin and Padmavati," Kalvi said.
"Why should we tolerate this, and till when should we tolerate this? For the last 70 years, the Rajputs have been painted in bad light," he said, adding, "he (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) landed in a wrong place called Rajasthan, and was slapped... ."
Kalvi said he has told "my people in UP to collect donations (amounting to Rs 200 crore) to compensate, as the film will not be screened in the state".
"If Rs 200 crore seems a very big amount, then what would be the value of the sacrifice made by our forefathers," he asked the press.
"We do not say don't make 'Padmavat'. Make it and break the record of 'Baahubali'. Make films on Shivaji, Maharana Pratap and demolish all other records ... But we will not allow this (distortion of historical facts) and the supreme sacrifice of 16,000 women to be distorted.
"Our forefathers, whose anniversaries we celebrate, must be turning in their graves now thinking they sacrificed their lives and we, their descendants, can't even cry (over distortion of their history)," Kalvi said.
The Karna Sena patron informed the press that the outfit will not give any call for band on January 26 as it "respects the country".
Meanwhile, a large number of people waving saffron flags protested the scheduled release of 'Padmaavat' in front of the SRS Cinema Hall in Gorakhpur and also burnt an effigy of Bhansali as they chanted 'Jai Sri Ram'.
The protesters also submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate.
"The movie 'Padmaavat' is hurting the feelings of Hindus and we are against its release. We will keep on protesting against the movie and demand a ban on its release," a protester said.
The film has been been facing protests by the Karni Sena and other fringe groups over allegations that historical facts were distorted in the movie.
The movie, which was earlier titled "Padmavati", will now be released worldwide on January 25 with the new title suggested by the censor board.
The film, which also stars Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh, was originally slated for release on December 1 last year but was postponed as the makers did not get a certificate from CBFC till then.
The film is based on the saga of the historic 13th century battle between Maharaja Ratan Singh and his army of Mewar and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi.
The Supreme Court had earlier paved the way for the all- India release of "Padmaavat" on January 25 and stayed notifications and orders issued by Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat -- all ruled by the BJP -- prohibiting exhibition of the film in their states.
The apex court had also restrained other states from issuing any such notification or orders banning the screening of the movie.