Members of the Valmiki community staged protests against Bollywood actor Salman Khan in many parts of the country over the use of a derogatory word during a promotional event for his film Tiger Zinda Hai.
The movie, which released on December 22, was directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and stars Khan and Katrina Kaif. It is the sequel to the 2012 blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger. In it, Khan reprises his role as an Indian agent while Kaif plays a Pakistani spy.
Members of the community protested in Rajasthan’s Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Bikaner, Ajmer and Almar, The Times of India reported. They burnt posters of the movie, effigies of the actors and vandalised theatres. There were also sporadic protests in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh and Hathras, and Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Gondal on Friday.
The agitation began after Khan, during a recent television show, used the word “bhangi” to describe his dancing skills, while actor Shilpa Shetty Kundra had earlier said she “looks like a bhangi” when asked about her look at home. Bhangi is one of the Dalit communities – besides Mehtar, Chuhra, Lal Beghi, Halalkhor and a few others – that make up Valmiki.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Friday sought a reply from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the police commissioners of Delhi and Mumbai over the complaints against Khan and Shetty, ANI reported. A First Information Report was also filed against Khan in Churu in Rajasthan.
A social worker from Rajasthan, Jitendra Hatwal Valmiki, told the Hindustan Times, “Constitutionally also, using this word is an abuse,” he said. “It has hurt the sentiments of the Valmiki community. Our demand is that Salman Khan and Shilpa Shetty apologise to Valmiki community. Till then, the movie should be stopped in the state.”
In November, many states in the country were in the middle of protesting over another film, Padmavati, which is based on the 14th-century mythical Chittor queen Padmini. Rajput groups have said the film distorts history as it shows a romantic dream sequence between the queen and Alauddin Khilji – a claim director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has denied.
Lead actor Deepika Padukone and Bhansali received a number of threats, after which Viacom18 Motion Pictures – the co-producers of Padmavati – decided to “voluntarily defer” its release. The movie was scheduled to be out on December 1. Now, according to reports, it may not be out till March.