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The Padmavaat Circus — A Brief Summary

Padmavati row

OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS, the nation has witnessed a bizarre issue. We have been battling with the question of whether a film should be allowed to screen or not. It is definitely a matter of concern if a movie is not allowed to be showcased, and even more if the makers and artists receive threats. But, don't you think we gave it more importance than what it really deserved? It certainly was not worthy of the space for prime time debates every single day as if it is the “only” thing India is concerned about.

From the beginning, I was appalled by the duration of time Padmavati remain in the news. After the news, they do a stupid TV debate about the same. We then also saw TV anchors giving a "no-objection certificate" to the movie happily. It was at a time when the film had not been even sent to the CBFC. But, there was a journalist/anchor who was showing the educational crisis in the country instead of a frivolous debate of whether Padmavati to be allowed to release or not. Definitely, he deserves a special mention for showing one of India's "real" issues and not getting tempted with Padmavati to increase TV ratings. In case if you don't know, he is NDTV’s Ravish Kumar. You can check out his 'university series' programme.

Earlier, we didn’t know what Karni Sena was. But in the age of social media, the violent threats issued by them, against filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and actress Deepika Padukone, gets widely circulated on the internet; which later also gave them spaces in the mainstream media. Our media was, obviously, obliged to show such news for the sake of ratings so much so that they become obsessed with Padmavati and Karni Sena.

All these drama and circus resulted in a tremendous publicity of the film, all for free. Though the kind of publicity it received is negative, it was an effective one. Had these protests not taken place, nobody would have given a damn if Padmavati releases or not. 

The impunity with which the fringe group has taken law and order in their hand creating a ruckus in the country shows that they enjoy the support of political party(ies). As the movie has only been blocked only in the BJP ruling states, it clarifies which party was providing the direct support. But even the opposition, which I suppose is Congress party, preferred not to speak up against them. The caste-based politics, probably, is responsible for keeping the opposition's mouth shut. After all, it's a whole Rajputs vote-bank out there to be messed up with.

It can't be refuted that there are certain emotions attached with Rani Padmini among the Rajasthani people, especially in those rowdy Rajputs who consider themselves brave & royal. Yes, the royalty of Rajasthan can be observed in its palaces and forts, it is very well preserved. However, such royalty is only a thing of the past. It definitely needs to be cherished, but without hallucinating.

Coming to the content of the movie Padmaavat, the obvious question is— what is so inflammatory about it? But before that, how they’ve come to know about it? It clearly shows that a large section of the community has been brainwashed. 

The whole drama started because of the "ghoomar song" where Padmavati can be seen dancing in front of Maharawal Ratan Singh while everyone watches. This video song is probably an "item number" of the conservatives. According to the Rajputs, Padmavati has never danced in front of anyone. As the existence of Padmini is disputed while the siege of Alauddin Khalji to the Chittorgarh was a real event in history, it is disastrously confusing.

Meanwhile, I tried to understand this with the “Rajputana perspective”. For which, I asked one of my friend who calls himself a “proud Rajput”— his views on Padmavati. All Rajputs, in fact, have an awkward sense of pride. Their mere being a Rajput is a reason to be proud. Nevertheless, I find it laughable, I never tried to ridicule his sense of pride. But on second thought, I tried to reason— where does this pride come from? I think this ‘pride’ comes from the inspiring stories and folklore from the past. Padmavati is one such example.

I was hoping to hear something inflammatory about the movie. I even deliberately provoked him to say something against the movie and also vent out his anger against Sanjay Leela Bhansali. But to my surprise, he said that he is waiting for the movie eagerly. And then, he asked me:

“Chalega kya?” (So, will you come?)
“Kahan?” (Where?)
“Padmavati dekhne aur kahan?” (To see Padmavati, where else?)

*It is only then I realized not all Rajputs of this country are against the release of movie Padmavati.*

So, what made some people (most people) of the community believe that the movie Padmaavat is trying to portray Rani Padmini in a way that casts aspersion on the Rajput community? 

Ignorance seems to be the answer. In school years, most children do not seem interested in the subject of history. And even those interested are not taught properly. And when they grow up, ignorance becomes their best friend, especially if history is concerned. This ignorance gives rise to false beliefs and superstitions making people vulnerable to false and selfish propaganda. Therefore, in a nation where education about history to the masses is primarily done by the means of films, these kinds of complications are bound to happen.


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