Days ahead of release, Rajput bodies warn theatre owners in Lucknow

Handing out a terse warning to theatre owners against screening Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s now re-named, re-edited Padmavaat set for January 25 release, various Rajput and Hindu bodies on Sunday demonstrated in different parts of Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP government is yet to take an official stand on the movie’s release.

lucknow Updated: Jan 22, 2018 14:10 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Rajput bodies,Padmavaat,Uttar Pradesh
While admitting that they feared violent protests, cinema hall owners, however, are hoping that the government will ensure security.(HT Photo)

Handing out a terse warning to theatre owners against screening Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s now re-named, re-edited Padmavaat set for January 25 release, various Rajput and Hindu bodies on Sunday demonstrated in different parts of Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP government is yet to take an official stand on the movie’s release.

To pressurise the Yogi Adityanath government, that was among the first few in the country to recommend ban Padmaavat in its previous avatar, the All India Kshatriya Mahasabha, Karni Sena along with few right wing outfits like Hindu Sena held demonstrations across the state.

After Thursday’s Supreme Court order striking down the ban on Padmaavat’s screening imposed by four states on the ground that the movie could enrage passions and create law and order problem, the Rajput bodies, which claim that Bhansali hasn’t done justice to Mewar queen Padmavati’s character, have revised their strategy. Instead of pinning hopes on the government, they are now trying to threaten cinema hall owners to voluntarily say no to the movie’s screening.

“Har woh cinema ghar jalega jisme Padmaavat chalega (All cinema halls screening Padmaavat would be set on fire),” chanted Rajput youths who staged protests in the state capital’s Hazratganj area on Sunday.

“In the case of Muzaffarnagar – A Burning Love, a film set in the backdrop of 2013 riots that engulfed western UP, the police allowed only selective release. It wasn’t screened in several west UP districts despite the fact that there was no administrative order banning the movie’s release. We want the government to do that here as well,” an agitated protestor said.

In Noida protests were held outside some multiplexes while in Shamli and Gorakhpur effigies of Bhansali and actors essaying the role of Rajput king and queen were burnt.

“Our youths are talking to cinema hall owners on the issue. We respect the Supreme Court but at the same time the society is feeling hurt at the manner in which our sentiments have been hurt by the cinematic depiction of the character of a queen who is revered by the Rajputs,” said Pratapgarh MP Harivansh Singh, the national chief of All India Kshatriya Mahasabha.

In UP, police officials admit that the Supreme Court order leaves little scope for any doubt about the film’s release. “It’s a categorical order and we would do what the honourable court has ordered. As far as protests are concerned, we would persuade protestors not to take the law in their hands,” said Anand Kumar, UP’s additional director general (crime and law and order).

In neighbouring Uttarakhand, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has made it clear that the movie will be screened. In UP too, senior government officials, who had in August 2011 seen apex court striking down the state government’s two month ban on the screening of Prakash Jha’s ‘Aarakshan’, agree that there is little the government can do.

While admitting that they feared violent protests, cinema hall owners, however, are hoping that the government will ensure security.

“We are confident that the government will deploy adequate security outside our theatres and multiplexes,” said one of the hall owners.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s office and senior officials of the state’s home department weren’t available for comment on the issue of threats to cinema hall owners.

First Published: Jan 22, 2018 14:10 IST