Saturday, 2 December 2017

Padmavati:Real Life Drama


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Padmavati:Real Life Drama

In order to understand the context of the Padmavati real life drama, it’s important to consider an event in our present timeline. Melania Trump[i] successfully sued and extracted both damages and a public apology from publishers Associated Newspapers (Daily Mail and Mail Online) for an article published by them on 20th August 2016. The article “questioned the nature of her work as a professional model and re-published allegations that she provided services beyond simply modelling.” The article was published when Trump was running for the office of the President of the United States. Media on both sides of contesting parties – Democrats or Republicans – were running malicious campaigns against their adversaries. The general public understood that and chose to ignore  most of it. But Melania Trump(rightly so) did not let this slip by so easily. She probably felt, that the damage to her reputation in the present context would not be as extensive as the damage to her legacy – how she would be remembered in the generations to some. That is probably why, despite winning, the Trumps pursued the case to it’s logical conclusion.

Multiply this event a thousand fold. Facts, (entrenched in the minds of millions as faith), related to another woman, held in deep regard for her courage and self-respect may be in the danger of being left in the hands of an influential creative and controversial director backed by a rich, powerful global giant. This woman is dead, has no battery of influential lawyers to fight her case. Even if there were the best lawyers, they would be hard pressed for any concrete evidence or witnesses, since accurate historical records of her era do not exist. On the contrary, some “experts” even question her existence[ii]. All she has is the faith and reverence embedded in the hearts and minds of millions of Indians, some of whom have taken up a cause to fight for her legacy. They don’t want her glorified more than she already was and they definitely do not want even a hint of an innuendo which could tarnish the image they carry about her, under the garb of creative licence or her glorification. To them, she chose to sacrifice her life delivering a humiliating message to a brutal enemy who plundered her people and her kingdom. The reason she chose death over captivity can be understood by reading about another woman in recent times who was an ISIS sex slave[iii].

Portraying themselves as the good guys/victims is powerful production company Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom18 Media Private Limited[iv],a Joint Venture owned by super powerful Viacom and Network 18.
Network 18[v] is owned by Reliance Industries while Viacom[vi] is the world's 6th largest broadcasting and Cable company including Paramount Pictures – the international distributers for Padmavati. Network 18 controls several business, entertainment and news channels in India including CNN News 18 whose anchors loose no opportunity in spewing venom at whoever finds anything objectionable in Padmavati.

Going back to the simile of Melania’s case, The powerful publishers Associated Journals had no hesitation to apologize and pay damages to the First Lady of the United States. But what if the lady in question was a regular middle aged unknown model?

This is the reason why no one was inclined to take the objections of Shri Rajput Karni Sena[vii] - a relatively small group, branded as “right wing fringe” by the media, very seriously. The very concept of native “illiterate” Indians objecting to an intellectually “superior” work of art seemed offending to the producers and the media. It was not as if other Indians were not offended. But it was mainly the representatives of a few organizations who raised the level of their methods of objection in order to  be heard.

While Sanjay Leela Bhansali is one of India’s renowned and creative directors, (he has been honoured with the Padma Shri – India’s 4rth Highest Civilian award) his movies(where he was associated as Producer or Director or both) are not new to controversy (something that is apparently helping Bollywood movies rake in the fortunes now-a-days.) His movie Goliyon Ki Rasleela-Ramleela was initially stayed by High Court of Delhi and subsequently banned[viii] in the State of Uttar Pradesh by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.
Despite or because of this it was the fifth highest grossing film of 2013. (U.S.$ 31 million).
Similarly, Bajirao Mastani, a “period romance” invited criticism from the descendants of Bajirao and Mastani [ix] for wrongful portrayal. It was also challenged in courts. It is apparently one of the highest grossing Indian films[x] of all times.

Mr. Bhansali’s tryst with Padmavati is not new. It is claimed that he assisted in editing[xi] noted director Shyam Benegal’s Television Series Bharat Ek Khoj(1988). One such episode,(Episode 26:Delhi Sutlanate Part III)was about Queen Padmavati.
 In 2008, he staged the opera Padmavati,[xii] based on a 1923 ballet by Albert Roussel. He had been apparently invited by the director of the Theatre Du Chatelet opera house in Pareis, Mr. Jean-Luc-Choplin to direct the opera, which had a worldwide tour[xiii]. The opera, like most Indian based creations showcased abroad, was apparently lauded by the foreign audience, particularly the Indophiles. This probably sowed the seeds of rumours for the creation of a film on Padmavati, but was apparently denied in a 2011 article[xiv].
It was reported in October 2016, that film Padmavati would be released in the week before Christmas of 2017.

The Karni Sena initially opposed rumours of an alleged “Dream Sequence” between the characters Padmavati (portrayed by Deepika Padukone)and Alauddin Khilji(portrayed by Ranveer Singh). While Bhansali has assured them that there wouldn’t be any such sequence, he remains largely unsuccessful in convincing them.
Diya Kumari, a Jaipur royal family member is extremely apprehensive regarding the Distortion of history as passed down through generations. But instead of trying to reconcile matters, Bhansali has chosen to claim on one side that no one’s sensitivities would be hurt (according to his judgement) and at the same time making it published in the media that since certain historians with vested interests deny Padmavati’s very existence[xvi], a distortion of history is not possible.
According to Maharajkumar Vishvaraj Singh, a Mewar dynast, the trailer of song Ghoomar from the movie is loaded with “gross inaccuracies that transgress the limits of dramatic licence.” “Queens never take part in the dance,” according to Rajput Sabha president Giriraj Singh Lotwara, urging that the film be reviewed by an “expert committee of historians and other intellectuals”, prior to release. Poonam Khangarot of the Rajput women’s group Kshatrani Sankalp further points out that, “ A Rajput queen would never perform before an audience, nor bare her midriff”, something that Deepika is seen doing in the song’s trailer.
Acharya Dharmendra of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has called it “Anti-Hindu and Anti-National
Vipul Goel, a Minister in the Haryana Government felt that Alauddin Khilji’s character has been glorified in the film. A journalist privy to sources[xvii] reported that Bhansali has meticulously avoided showing Alauddin as homosexual, despite historical records suggesting otherwise[xviii].
Other objections include depiction of sati (self immolation)

In the last week of January 2017, Sanjay Leela Bhansali was allegedly slapped and heckled[xix] on the film sets in Jaipur by members of the Rajput Karni Sena. However, Lokhendra Singh, spokesperson of the Karni Sena said that Bhansali’s crew had fired shots in the air leading to the scuffle.
In the month of March 2017, the sets of the movie were set on fire and vandalized[xx] by unknown persons. Similar cases of vandalism of artwork and property related to the film[xxi] were subsequently reported. Threats were also issued by some individuals. On 24th November , a man apparently committed suicide[xxii] by hanging from the Nahargarh fort in Jaipur as a protest against the film.
Bhansali and his team on the other hand screened the movie to certain sections of the media without the mandatory Central Board of Film Certification(CBFC) apparently violating the law. There obtaining a certification[xxiii] from the British Board of Film Classification has also been labelled as illegal by former CBFC Chairman Mr. Pahlaj Nihalani[xxiv].
Mr. Nihalani had been criticised[xxv] for his conservative approach and Right wing ideological leanings towards the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party as Censor Board chief and it is just as well, that the current Chairman Mr. Prasoon Joshi[xxvi] is at the helm of affairs. Mr Joshi is considered more media savvy and is currently in a position to decide on the fate of the movie. So far, no legal action has been taken by any Government agency against Bhansali or his team.

Mr. Bhansali had apparently reached out to the Karni Sena in January 2017, following which the filming was allowed to proceed. In November he released a video message[xxvii] via co-producers Viacom stressing that the movie had no scenes “which would hurt the sentiments of anyone.”
On 19th November, Karan Singh Rathore of the Karni Sena had proposed that the Mewar Royals be given a preview of the film [xxviii]and that they might stop protests if the Mewar Royals found nothing objectionable. HH Arvind Singh Mewar, the custodian of the Mewar Dynasty, had offered to mediate in the dispute. On 12th November, HH MK Vishvaraj Singh, belonging to the royal family of Mewar, wrote to the Prime Minister and other concerned officials requesting them to withhold the release of the film.
However Mr. Bhansali and company chose to let the media judge the movie and screened it for them despite a pending CBFC certification. Journalists like Arnab Goswami[xxix], Rajat Sharma and Zaka Jacob then pronounced verdict[xxx] on the movie shown to them in apparent violation of the law. Ajit Andhare, CEO Viacom18 Motion Pictures,tweeted on 17th November that they could “screen to responsible individuals who feel aggrieved…”
As per reports[xxxi], on 22nd September the Karni Sena warned that it wouldn't allow the film’s release even if changes were made by it's makers. They had called for a Bharat Bandh on December 1, as a mark of protest, but no significant protest was reported.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology headed by BJP Lok Sabha Member Anurag Thakur had summoned[xxxii] the films Producer, Director, CBFC Chairman and Secretary Information and Brodcasting to appear before it.

The movie has been banned in the states[xxxiii] of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. Other states such as Hyderbad, Haryana, Maharashtra and Himachal have also witnessed protests against the movie. The Chief Minister of West Bengal has however, welcomed the screening of the film. Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amrinder Singh stated that he didn’t support any ban on the movie but respected the right of those offended by the movie to protest peacefully.

Cases have been filed in various courts. The Courts have dismissed such cases[xxxiv] so far, on the grounds that the movie has not yet received Censor board certification.

By not effectively reaching out to the stakeholders (the locals and members of the royal family in Mewar) Bhansali has reduced his credibility, creating a huge trust deficit. His private screenings for certain sections of the media prior to the Censor Board approval, has further provoked distrust from both the protestors as well as the CBFC. Given Bhansali's previous films, his increasing dependency on controversy,his arrogant conduct and the movie's trailer, that people are convinced of the ill intentions of the makers. They are apprehensive that, once released, there would be little they could do to prevent anyone from watching anything objectionable. The snubbing by media as well as the Indian film fraternity of anyone who has a contrarian view of the movie is only adding fuel to the fire. No matter how much he cites creative freedom of expression/poetic licence, Bhansali cannot escape the fact that the movie Padmavati’s guaranteed unprecedented box office collections (if released) would not be possible without this controversy. But no matter how much they criticize and lampoon the locals and royals of Rajasthan or the executive which supports them, they cannot drown the screaming whispers inside everyone: All that an ambitious greedy film director or corporate house has to do to make a fortune is to create controversy around a movie by hurting the sentiments of a majority of the population under “freedom of speech and expression”.
In fact, the commercial viability of any Bollywood production now-a-days is being based purely on the scale of controversy it can generate.

Image Credits:

Deepika Padukone:Wikipedia -; Prasoon Joshi:Wikipedia - ChiragjumANI; Sanjay Leela Bhansali:; Ajit Andhare:; Ashok Pandit:; Zaka Jacob:; Princess Diya Kumar: Pinterest; HH Maharaj Kumar Vishvaraj Singh :; Lokendra Singh Kalvi:;

 Melania Trump Accepts Daily Mail damages│Owen Bowcott and Holly Watt│ │

    RottenMangoManQueen Padmavati:Her Story, His Story Or History?

     Nadia Murad Reveals How She Was KidnappedStefanie Cohen│

[iv]   Wikipedia
[v]    Wikipedia
[viii] Times of India‘..Court Bans Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ramleela in’ PTI

[ix]  Indian ExpressBajirao’s and Mastani’s Descendants blast Sanjay Leela..Sonup Sahadevan

  Wikipedia-Bollywood HungamaBox Office:Worldwide CollectionsNews Network│

The QuintSanjay Bhansali Worked On…

[xii]  YouTubeThe Padmavati Opera

[xiii] The TelegraphIndian Opera Goes to Italy

  Archive:Hindustan TimesBhansali Not Adapting PadmavatiIANS

Hindustan Times..8 Reasons Why Protestors..

[xvi] RottenMangoManQueen Padmavati’s Legacy

[xvii] Zee News 10 facts you ought to know.. Subhash K Jha

[xviii] RottenMangoMan #Alauddin_Khilji_Was_Gay

[xix] NDTVPadmavati Crew Threatened Us..Harsha Kumari Singh

[xx] Indian ExpressPadmavati Sets VandalizedExpress Web Desk
[xxi] Hindustan TimesKarni Sena Members among 5 heldPTI

[xxii] NDTVAt Jaipur Fort Dead BodyHarsha Kumari Singh,Nonika Marwaha

[xxiii] The HinduBritish Censor Board Clears PadmavatiPTI

[xxiv] OutlookPadmavati Cleared by Censor..

[xxv] DNARift in Censor Board..PTI

[xxvi] WikipediaPrasoon Joshi

[xxvii] Business StandardBhansali Releases Video..

[xxviii] India TodayPadmavati:KarniAnkit Tyagi,Ganesh Kumar, Radha Udayakumar

[xxix] RottenMangoManArnab Ranjan Goswami-Journalist_Troll

[xxx] Sharma Backs Padmavati..

[xxxi] Zee News..Won’t allow film’s release..

[xxxii] NDTV..Bhansali,Censor Board Chief, summonedSunetra Choudhury

[xxxiii] Hindustan Times..Bihar, U.P.,Gujarat and other..

[xxxiv]  NDTVNo “Padmavati” BanA Vaidyanathan, Shuchi Shukla


  1. So are you trying to justify the threats and violence? Any Directir reserve right to its version no matter how hurtful it is to audience

  2. Viacom and Amazon Prime will crush the Hindu Karni and Rajput sena like ants. It will also silence your voice and lousy blog . No one reads your shit anyways ,no matter how many "facts" you provide links to. Money talks and people will jeer lustily at your so called Goddess

  3. Mahesh Daskhinamoorthy8 December 2017 at 08:11

    @rottenmangoman you have provided an insightful perspective on how the powerful Bollywood and Lusty Corporates never hesitate to jeopardize India's historic treasures. I appreciate your effort in putting up this blog

  4. We need to rid our country of fake sickular historians.

  5. It is sad to note the the film Padmavati or Padmavat has got certification and will release on 25th January 2018. It appears that censor board is a puppet in the hands of bollywood and the corporate

  6. Col.Dharam Pal Khanna10 January 2018 at 23:09

    The BJP Government should have explored the Dawood ISIS nexus of funding of Padmavat made to create unrest 1 year before elections as recommended by Dr. Subramanian Swamy. But it seems even PM is sold out to Reliance. Pappu may be dumb, but he was right

  7. I have seen the musical play on Padmavati directed earlier by Mr.Bhansali in Italy. It was piece of shit work. The man can't direct