Suraj Pal Amu, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader who announced a Rs 10-crore reward for the beheading of actor Deepika Padukone and Padmaavat director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, said on Thursday that the country will be “torn apart” if the film releases on January 25.
Amu’s statement came hours after the Supreme Court set aside the notification passed by the states of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat against the release of the film. “The Supreme Court has hurt the sentiments of the lakhs of Hindus who respect it,” he was quoted as saying by ANI. “Our protest will continue even if I am hanged to death.”
Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said the state will abide by the Supreme Court’s decision. “We will get the court decision studied by the law department and further steps will be taken after that,” Kataria said.
Members of the Rajput community in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur threatened to burn down movie halls that screen Padmaavat. “No changes hereafter are acceptable. We want a complete ban,” they said, after submitting a memorandum to state Home Minister Ramsewak Paikra.
Soon after the order, the head of the Rajput Karni Sena, Lokendra Singh Kalvi, asked people not to allow the movie to be screened. He said he will conduct an emergency meeting in Mumbai on Friday, ANI reported.
In Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, a group of men vandalised a cinema hall to protest against the Supreme Court’s decision.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said it was a vindication of artists’ rights and the freedom of speech. “The Supreme Court must be congratulated for upholding not just freedom of speech but also artists’ rights to present story in a manner they wish to,” Sibal said. “We hope states will honor the verdict and don’t create hurdles in its implementation.”
Former CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani praised the Supreme Court’s decision, saying that the ruling was an eye-opener to those organisations that protested against the film.
“The way these states have supported one particular community for the sake of vote bank as the elections are coming show the double standards of this government,” Nihalani told News18. “They purposely decided to leave the decision to the Supreme Court because they thought the court was obviously going to favour the film, so why should they have to take the risk.”
Haryana minister Anil Vij said the state government will examine the Supreme Court’s decision to see if they can appeal against it. “The court passed the verdict without listening to our side,” Vij told ANI. “The Supreme Court is the supreme, so will abide by the decision.”
Many people from the film industry, however, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision and said that it had restored their faith in the democracy.
Repeated protests and threats of violence by Rajput groups, led by the Rajput Karni Sena, stalled the movie’s release and delayed its certification. The censor board had appointed a panel of historians to look into the claim that the film contains historical inaccuracies. The movie was finally cleared with a few changes on the condition that Bhansali and Viacom18 Motion Pictures change the title from Padmavati to Padmaavat to align it closer to its source material.
Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, the historical drama is based on the 16th century poem of the same name by Malik Muhammad Jaisi.