The ongoing controversy surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s touted magnum opus PADMAVATI starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, has ironically made this nation which is primarily driven by the ‘chalta hai’ (rough translation - doesn't matter) attitude suddenly getting powered by this ‘nahi chalega’ (rough translation: It won't do) outrage which reminds us of the great John Godfrey Saxe’s poem THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT.
The most astonishing and overwhelming part of the whole ‘ho halla’ (rough translation: noise, protest) which is now spreading in different ‘mohalla’ (rough translation: an area of a town or a community) is that no one apart from the cast and crew of PADMAVATI has seen this movie.
Dictates, suggestions, recommendations all are pouring in. The latest is a nationwide bandh (strike) on December 01 2017 – the release date of this film, a rumoured agreement of the makers to show the film to the members of the activists after the CBFC passes the film, banning the film and so on. The CBFC is still to grant a certificate to the movie and it is heard that even the film certification body of India has received a letter asking the body to consider the reported objections in the film and clear them or else face the responsibility of the outrage. Bravo !!
Poor Pahlaj Nihalani, the alleged sanskari ex Chief of CBFC missed a golden opportunity and it would be interesting to see the ex CBFC chief at the receiving end for a change, previously during Nihalani’s regime, The CBFC was allegedly dictating terms with filmmakers.
Without getting into the details on how much work has been done by the agitators and activists to protect women, uplift the girl child and our culture, let us ‘rightly’ agree on one point that we may not have the intellect to decide on which movie we should watch but can elect a government (clap clap), but at least no one can stop me from imagination and drawing fantasies. Our dear Sanjay Leela Bhansaliji is a proven expert in creating ultimate fantasies – the grandeur that transports us to world in which Paro dances with Chandramukhi in DEVDAS and Mastani matches her tumkhas and jhumkas in BAJIRAO MASTANI with Kashibai.
The public in general never minds as all these events are staged against the backdrop of magnificent havelis, palaces, battlefields, glittering costumes, colours, melodrama, it’s like watching a dream on screen. Unfortunately, Bhansali’s trademark quality in creating such a spectacle, this time has gone against him as the agitators are adamant that they are more aware of the filmmaker’s creative instincts than the filmmaker himself. In my opinion this might be the reason that even after repeated clarifications from the lead cast and a video message by Bhansali that denies any dream sequence or a scene between Khilji (Ranveer Singh) and Rani Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), the protesters are confident that historical facts have been distorted and there may be a scene. (on the contrary, I would have ‘silently’ protested to have a scene between Deepika and Ranveer.. so that I get my tickets worth if the movie turns out to be a disappointment).
Anyways, it’s a pity that ‘serious’ statements of film industry are not at all taken seriously by certain sections, this type of mindset is not allowing the Indian film industry to gain the status of a fully fledged industry. Film Industry is a bunch of entertainers for such people, whose job is make people entertain and give their money’s worth.
Having said that, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is doing the same since ages and he is fantastic, that’s another matter that the filmmaker is alleged by some section for not giving proper credit to the original writers like Maitreyi Devi’s 1974 novel ‘Na Hanyate’ – the inspiration behind HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM for example which was not given credit in the story department of the film cast and crew credits.
Coming back to the controversy which is getting hotter day by day, I remember that Bhansali and controversy are made for each other.. RAM LEELA, BAJIRAO MASTANI.. both Bhansali and controversy date each other at the right evening. But in this case, it is setting a perfect example of what we called ‘choli daman ka saath’ (close together, cheek by jowl) right from the days of shooting to the 3D trailer event and so on..
The protesters are following every move of the makers and surprisingly are blind to the clarifications of the makers on the said matter. God, such a hue and cry over something not even seen and as per historians and Bhansali’s statement, PADMAVATI is an epic poem written in Avadhi language by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540. The street censorship is taking over leaving less options for filmmakers, I won't be surprised if tomorrow a horse starts protesting against a certain depiction of horses in a period drama.
Did India during the British colonial raj protested against the 1936 ACHHUT KANNYA – the reformist period drama that deals with the social position of Dalit girls starring Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani that had a dream run at Roxy theater in Mumbai.
After completing 100 years of our cinema we are finding protest regarding a certain film which is yet to be censored by CBFC, forget about releasing in theaters for the audience in general.
On a lighter note, if still things don't get cooled down, the image of the ravishing Deepika Padukone in all those glitter, looking like a true diva coming close to you (it’s India’s biggest 3D release remember) will be enough to calm your senses and take you away. That’s the reason we go to theaters to enjoy that escapism without the opium right. Let us enjoy our Friday dude.. or else the following stanza from John Godfrey Saxe’s poem THE BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT will be repeated with unwanted chorus.
So, oft in theologic wars, The disputants, I ween, Rail on in utter ignorance, Of what each other mean; And prate about an Elephant, Not one of them has seen!
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