A dangerous trend

Absolute CommentDeepika Padukone, who depicts the role of ‘Padmavati’ in Snjay Leela Bhansali’s costume drama of the same name, hit the headlines when she made a statement that nobody can stop the release of the film. This statement of hers was enough for so called publicity hungry custodians of art, culture and history. Shri Rajput Sena chief Mahipal Singh Makrana threatened Deepika if ‘she continued to provoke the sentiments of protesters’ her nose would be chopped. On the other hand, Thakur Abhishek Singh of Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya Yuva Mahasabha has offered an amount of Rs 5 crore to anybody who would ‘behead’ her and the film’s producer- director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. They feel that history has been distorted in the film and Rani Padawati’s image has not been portrayed in a proper manner.

If we go through the story behind Padmavati, we come across a controversy regarding the same. Historians are divided on whether Rani Padmavati of Chittorgarh was a real person, but many people in Rajasthan believe that the queen, famous for her beauty, is a historical figure and lived in the 14th century. If we go with them, Alauddhin Khilgi invaded Chittorgarh because he was very much impressed with the queen’s beauty. When defeat was almost certain the queen chose to jump into the fire rather than falling prey to Khilgi’s hands. We feel that the controversy on the film yet to be released is uncalled for. The Supreme Court of India on this Thursday has already stated, “…any film, drama, thereafter or novel is a creation of artistic expression. An artist has freedom to express him/herself in a manner not prohibited in law. Such prohibition is not meant to crucify the right of an expression mind.”

The Supreme Court is absolutely right by saying that creators of artistic works must have the freedom to express themselves freely even if their views are not liked. In a democratic country in today’s day and age mob opinion should not be allowed to dictate the limits of freedom of expression. Our constitution allows reasonable restrictions but imposing bans merely because a section of people or even a majority of people feel offended is by no means justified. In today’s digital era people are being arrested for something as liking post on facebook or expressing their views on different social media platforms. But in this case we have people announcing rewards in lieu of an established and leading film director’s head and also threatening an actress of repute having her nose cut off. On one hand we are talking about New India and on the other by tolerating this kind of fatwas are we not heading towards becoming Taliban where there is complete anarchy…where fatwas are issued and executed. Is it not the responsibility of our government to stop such kind of unconstitutional activities immediately! The entire controversy pertaining to the film is uncalled for. We have a statuary body to review a film and issue the certificate for its exhibition which is yet to be issued. Moreover filmmaking is a creative medium and imagination is the integral part of creativity. It is the need of the hour that we should see the thing in its totality. If the protest is non violent then it goes without saying that we are heading towards a total different society. These threats are given in public, on camera. Nothing is hidden. So there is no scope of probe. These so called custodians of the society should be put behind the bars without any further delay. Not only this, the courts should immediately announce their verdicts. If swift action is not taken against them it will be seen as support for acts of deadly violence. And by no means we can afford it.

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