Padmavati is one of India’s most anticipated historical films that almost everyone is eagerly waiting to watch. But due to the historical context of the film that deals with the exploits of a Rajput princess against the tyranny of a Muslim conqueror, the film has garnered its fair share of controversy. Groups such as the Shree Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) and the Rajasthan State Women’s Commission (RSWC) have mobilized in large numbers and have threatened cinema goers and owners with dire consequences if they try to show the film. The right to protest in this context is in poor light for the following reasons;
1. SRKS followers have resorted to open vandalism of public and private property & have at multiple occasions made a mockery of law and order. If certain elements don’t wish to see the cinema, then why should that deprive other curious and open-minded people to see the same? Regarding the suitability and analysis of the film, the final authority lies with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) whose authority cannot be overruled. CBFC and the audience should be the final judge.
2. SRKS followers have even threatened the lead heroine of the film by insulting her in public as a Nauch girl so much so that she along with her co-stars have been given police protection. Given that SRKS projects itself as a guardian of honor and Indian culture; this is frankly double-sided talk. Surprisingly, even the RSWC has been mute on this issue considering that they too consider themselves as protectors of women’s interests
3. Despite the director’s assurances that the film is inspired from famous poet Malik Muhammed Jayasi’s celebrated work ‘Padmavat’ which has been termed by many noted historians as a work of extra-ordinary fiction, SRKS members have gone so far as to declare a national ‘bandh’ on December 1, the date the movie releases. Again, why should the cinema industry, which is a major revenue earner for the Indian govt. be subject to such dictatorial and brutish ideas that believe in suppression and not discussion?
Given these issues, the Government must promote active discussion between dissenting parties in a free, fair and peaceful manner. The CBFC can also, depending on its analysis and discussions with the director, give the film an ‘A’ or ‘Restricted “S” rating to reduce the potential impact of the film on young minds. It’s high time that we as rational, sane and intellectually sober class of Indians find that discussion more than suppression is the way out.