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Padmavati row: In Bengal ruling TMC vows to ensure smooth screening

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has already described the controversy around the film as “a calculated plan of a political party to destroy the  freedom to express ourselves”.

kolkata Updated: Nov 22, 2017 10:10 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Padmavati,Mamata Banerjee,Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Bengal chief minister has urged those connected with the film industry to unite against the efforts to resist the screening of the film.(HT Photo)

The row over Padmavati may trigger the latest round of acrimony between the saffron camp and Bengal’s ruling party with Trinamool Congress leaders vowing to ensure smooth screening of the film after release.

Within 48 hours of members of Bharat Kshatriya Samaj, a fringe right wing outfit, agitating in Kolkata against the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, Trinamool Congress leaders made it clear that they will not allow any muscle flexing in the name of protest.

Read: Padmavati row: Madhya Pradesh bans Bhansali’s movie, Amarinder backs protests, Mamata sees a ‘plot’

The tone was set by chief minister Mamata Banerjee herself, who twitted her displeasure over the controversy around Padmavati. “The #Padmavati controversy is not only unfortunate but also a calculated plan of a political party to destroy the freedom to express ourselves. We condemn this super emergency. All in the filmindustry must come together and protest in one voice,” she wrote on Monday.

Though she did not name any party, it was clear Mamata Banerjee was refering to BJP with which her party had a running battle on a number of issues from cow politics to demonetisation.

The film is yet to obtain the censor board’s clearance. Soon after the protests by Bharat Kshatriya Samaj on Saturday, a police picket was deployed in front of Navina cinema in south Kolkata, where the protest took place.

Read: Padmavati row: Ranveer Singh asked not to talk about film, CM Yogi says Bhansali as guilty as protestors

Bhansali’s yet-to-be-released film has already generated controversy across the country with three states a few BJP-ruled states such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan objecting to its screening. While MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has said the film won’t be screened in his state, the Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje said on Monday that until suggestions given in her November 18 letter to Union I&B minister Smriti Irani are implemented, Padmavati will not be screened in Rajasthan. Punjab chief minister captain Amarinder Singh, too, has said that films distorting history will not be allowed in his state.

As the protests mounted, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray spoke to director Bhansali. The party said the filmmaker should edit out offending portions.

In Kolkata, the mood was different. Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP and actor Satabdi Roy said, no hooliganism will be tolerated in some groups try to forcefully stop the screening of the film after it obtains censor board clearance.

Read: Padmavati row: Javed Akhtar implies Rajputs were pawns of British, faces threats

“It is not just Trinamool Congress that will resist such strong arm tactics. There will be overwhelming resistance to such hooliganism from the people of Bengal, who have always defended freedom of expression,” said Roy.

After Mamata Banerjee’s statement, a senior member of her cabinet told HT, “Since the chief minister has already spoken, I would not like to comment further. But neither Trinamool Congress, nor the state government will tolerate any muscle flexing to suppress the freedom of expression.”

“I wonder whether those protesting in Kolkata were aware of the contents of the movie. Bengal will not tolerate a culture where a handful of people will issue fatwas to kill an actress, or chop off a part of her body,” Satabdi Roy added.

Rajput Karni Sena, a Rajasthan-basd fringe outfit has threatened to chop off Padukone’s nose and behead Bhansali if the film is released. Another group, Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha announced a reward of Rs 1 crore for anyone setting Deepika Padukone, who played Padmavati, on fire.

They alleged the film on the legend of queen Padmavati (or Padmini) compromised the honour of the queen.

First Published: Nov 22, 2017 10:10 IST