No matter what the makers of Padmaavat do or the assurances they make, the film refuses to leave troubled waters. Despite the Supreme Court order to lift the ban on Padmaavat in four states clearing it for a nationwide release, the film might not see a smooth release. Bursting the creators’ bubble, protests by fringe groups in quite a few states have threatened the film’s upcoming release on January 25.
Thousands of women in Jaipur on Sunday, January 21, walked with swords in hand for a ‘Chetavani Rally’ or a warning march. A total of 1,908 women have already announced that they’ll commit ‘jauhar’ (committing suicide by jumping into fire) in Chittorgarh.
Deciding that jauhar was the only recourse available since the film is on track to release on Thursday, the head of Rajasthan’s Jauhar Kshatriya Manch told ANI,
“We have been protesting against the release of this film ever since we came to know of it. However, the government did not pay heed to our demands and decided to favour Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Hence, we have decided that some women will perform Jauhar on January 24. We are not afraid of death.”
In Gujarat, agitators resorted to violence — burning buses in various districts of the state including Ahmedabad, Mehsana and Gandhinagar. After violent protests by a Rajput community, the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) had shut operations in the northern part of the state. Bus services were halted in Mehsana, Patan, Gandhinagar, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts till the situation improves.
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Cinema hall owners in a fix
The Indian Express reported that a few multiplexes are unsure about whether they would even screen the film as threats of vandalism by Karni Sena looms large.
Attempting to make cinema owners toe the party line, the Karni Sena distributed a memo to all theatre owners. A few of the members of the fringe group even warned saying “wait and watch what happens on 25th” if the film were to release.
Shri Rajpur Karni Sena spokesperson Vijendra Singh told News18, “On Sunday, we contacted around 100 cinema halls in the National Capital Region and they have given in writing that they will not screen the film.”
Singh was sure to remind cinema hall owners about the consequences that would befall in case they decided to go ahead with the release.
Police trying to control situation
Preparing against the impending violence, the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner issued a notification stating that those protesting near cinema halls will be booked under Section 308 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The Gujarat DGP has asked people to maintain peace and the cops are already making preventive arrests. Public buses on several routes have been stopped as violence continues to brew.
Although the movie is set to release on Thursday, the tactics of Karni Sena and other fringe groups have threatened to stir up a lawless situation. BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh moved the Supreme Court on January 22 for a recall of its January 18 order that allowed the release of the movie.