A few days ago, Karni Sena protestors broke into the sets of ‘Padmavati’ in Jaipur and not just vandalized the filming equipment and art, but even physically assaulted the director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Soon, the internet was abuzz with a viral video of National Award Winning director Sanjay Leela Bhansali slapped in front of the entire crew by a bunch of outraged fanatics who took to violence to protest against the assumption (not even a confirmed fact) that the iconic Rani Padmini’s story was being wrongly portrayed. The Karni Sena protestors said they had ‘heard’ from ‘sources’ (which were obviously never named) that Sanjay Leela Bhansali was shooting an intimate scene between ‘Padmavati’ (played by Deepika Padukone) and her ‘villanious’ captor Allaudin Khilji (Ranveer Singh). Turns out, there was never going to be a romantic track between Padmavati and Khilji in SLB’s film in the first place.
Yes, that’s right. This act of violence was conducted (much against law) based only on an assumption. An artist’s creative liberty was snatched away by force. The protestors who physically assaulted Sanjay Leela Bhansali were identified only to be let loose in no time. The makers of ‘Padmavati’, on the other hand, had to stall the rest of the shoot just for the mere safety of the cast and crew, apart from suffering the losses worth crores. Hooliganism won.
The Karni Sena continues to be unapologetic about the incident. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is being made to ‘promise’ certain terms and conditions before resuming the shoot. A filmmaker who aspired to tell the story of a brave Indian woman, the same people in large numbers have looked up to for ages, is being held at gunpoint, bullied to meet the needs of a bunch of fanatics so insecure about their ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’ that they fear art.
While the youth questions the authority with which Karni Sena attacked Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the ‘leaders’ of this country continue to instigate mob violence against Sanjay Leela Bhansali and anyone else who wishes to create art out of legends and folklores. Take for example, Akhilesh Khandelwal, a BJP politician who is offering a reward of Rs. 10,000 to his followers to hit Sanjay Leela Bhansali with a shoe.
Take a look at these shameful comments.
It’s just one Facebook status update, you may say. No, it’s not just one Facebook status update. It’s a mob sentiment. The same aggressive, intolerant sentiment that ignited the Karni Sena protest. The same sentiment that might pose a threat to SLB’s safety in the coming days. Shame on Akhilesh Khandelwal, for using his influence to instigate mob violence.