As if it were possible, the controversy surrounding Padmavati has only got murkier. Protests have erupted across the country against the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's new movie and the release date has been pushed further. Amongst other open threats, Haryana BJP Chief Media Coordinator Suraj Pal Amu announced that youth and warrior caste of the Rajputs have the strength to set every cinema on fire and it would be akin to PM Modi's Clean India initiative.
Before this threat, Amu had announced a bounty of Rs 10 crore to anyone who would behead Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Amu even warned Ranveer Singh not to support Bhansali and Padukone or they would break his legs.
Even after such remarks and inciting violence, the only action taken so far against the BJP member is that the NCW has asked the Haryana Police to 'look' into the matter. It surely feels like a slap on the wrist considering that Amu is ready to behead two of the nation's renowned personalities because they made a movie on a queen who may or may not have existed.
Whether Padmavati existed or didn't is a discussion best left to historians and students of history. However, even historians do not look eye-to-eye when it comes to the documentation of Rani Padmini's life and the jauhar she, along with her fellow queens, committed following the siege of Chittor. According to multiple accounts, the first known mention of Padmavati was found in Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi's epic poem, Padmavat, written in 1540 - two centuries after the events of Padmavati supposedly took place.
When our historians, whose actual jobs revolve around the accurate representation of history, cannot agree on one thing, it is a bit rich to expect Bhansali, a filmmaker whose job is to entertain audiences with larger-than-life narratives, to depict the events in a precise manner.
Preeti Choudhury, Deputy Editor at India Today in fact found some inconsistencies in the narratives of the Rajput community and the ASI accounts.
So, what started as a reaction to a rumour ignited a wildfire of protests. Supposed fringe groups and members of major political parties are now engaged in protests calling for a ban of the movie. In fact, another BJP member, Arjun Gupta - this time from UP - said that Bhansali should be tried for treason for distorting history. Neither does Gupta have an understanding of what treason is nor does he know what distortion of history implies.
Distortion of history is when Vinay Katiyar, a BJP lawmaker claims that Taj Mahal was actually a Shiv temple. What Bhansali is doing is creative freedom. It perhaps would have been a distortion of history if he had depicted any relationship between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji - something he has repeatedly mentioned that the movie does not show.
Rajat Sharma and Arnab Goswami, who have seen the film, mention that the movie does not demean the Rajputs or portray any questionable sequence. There is a dance sequence in the song Ghoomar that the members of the Rajput community have taken offence to. But surely, it is nothing that can't be resolved without severing Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's heads.
It ill behoves a democracy with well-oiled legislation and judiciary to take situations in our own hands, akin to a lawless state. If we cannot even handle a movie peacefully, then we are knee-deep in big trouble.