The attack on ace filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the sets of his upcoming film Padmavati in Jaipur by activists of a Rajput organisation has left many fraternity members “appalled”. They have demanded a strong action by the government.
On Friday, the Karni Sena activists entered the Jaigarh Fort and assaulted Bhansali, according to the police. They even misbehaved with the crew and criticised the National Award-winning director for “distorting” history in the film about the medieval-era Delhi ruler Alauddin Khilji, who fell in love with Rajput queen Padmavati.
“He (Bhansali) has packed up and has said he will never shoot again in Jaipur,” a source said. Speaking about the incident, Vivek Singh of Karni Sena told media, “We had earlier requested him (Bhansali) to show us the script which he did not do. We are against distorting of historical facts and we know that he has distorted historical facts.”
Karni Sena claimed they have got a big library. “In no book is it written that Alauddin Khilji fell in love with Padmavati or he was her lover,” a senior leader from the organisation said.
The film’s lead actors star Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor have condemned the attack by tweeting that they were in a “state of shock” and had been left “disheartened”. “Sanjay sir is one of the most accomplished and authentic filmmakers we have in India, and he won’t ever do anything to hurt anyone’s feelings,” Ranveer tweeted.
While Shahid posted, “Words do fall short and feel too little to express feelings. Violence is unacceptable. This incident has shocked me. We need to look deep within as a society, as a country, as people…where are we headed.”
Siddharth Roy Kapur, President of The Film & Television Producers Guild of India strongly condemned the “acts of vandalism” on the sets of Padmavati as a direct attack on freedom of expression in India’s democracy. “The film industry has become the softest target for any fringe group looking for media attention, and we need the strongest possible intervention from the concerned authorities to end this and to end it now,” he said. Kapur urged the “Government of India and the state government of Rajasthan to take immediate steps to ensure the strongest possible punitive action is taken against these miscreants, so it serves as a deterrent in preventing the recurrence of such unacceptable events in the future”
Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPAA) vice president, Ashoke Pandit said, “It is very saddening and shameful that the incident has happened with an icon like Bhansali. On behalf of IMPPA and director’s association, I strongly condemn the attack.”
Other Bollywood celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Shabana Azmi, Rishi Kapoor, Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt, Raza Murad, Ashutosh Gowariker, Alia Bhatt and Hrithik Roshan have also lent support to Bhansali.
“Can once the whole film industry come together and take a stand, and refuse to be a pony that all b******t and b************s ride on? At the same time shame on you Karni Sena, you make me feel ashamed to be a Rajput. Bloody spineless cowards. Hindu extremists have stepped out of Twitter into the real world now and Hindu terrorism is not a myth anymore,” filmmaker Anurag Kashyap tweeted.
Shabana said that the Indian film industry must “stand as one” and do whatever it takes to ensure that the reprehensible attack on Bhansali becomes a “flash point for ‘goondagiri’ to stop”.
Raza Murad said that attacking the film fraternity has become a “practice these days”. “As a democratic country, it is our right to protest. But attacking somebody is illegal. It seems we are in a situation where strong oppresses the weak. This is not a democracy. People don’t have a fear of law and order,” he said.
Film industry asks government to take action
The film industry rallied behind Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Saturday, with fellow filmmakers tweeting their support and the Film and Television Producers Guild of India Ltd demanding action against those who had attacked him and his crew. Actor Manoj Bajpayee warned political parties against treating the incident lightly. “Such incidents have been happening for a long time, they aren’t just taking place under the current regime. They were as unfortunate when the target was M F Husain as they were when Vivek Agnihotri was attacked in Bengal. What we call fringe elements today will soon be dictating terms to bigger political parties if their arm-twisting goes unchecked. And that’s a scary scenario for everyone, including the bigger political parties that may look in their direction for support during election time.”
He also regretted that the film industry selectively protests and raises its voice against such incidents. The president of the Film and Television Producers Guild, Siddharth Roy Kapur, issued a statement saying, “Speaking on behalf of the entire film industry, I strongly condemn the acts of vandalism on the sets of Padmavati as a direct attack on freedom of expression in our democracy. The film industry has become the softest target for any fringe group looking for media attention, and we need the strongest possible intervention from the concerned authorities to end this. We urge the government of India and the state government of Rajasthan to take immediate steps to ensure the strongest possible punitive action is taken against these miscreants, so it serves as a deterrent in preventing the recurrence of such unacceptable events in the future.”
While the government is trying to project India as an attractive shooting locale, such miscreants are defeating the ‘Shoot in India’ endeavor, said the statement. Director Kabir Khan tweeted: “1st they stop release of films and now they are trying to stop films from being made. Attack on #SanjayLeelaBhansali is SHAMEFUL #IstandbySLB”. Producer-actor Aamir Khan said he was deeply saddened and depressed about the attack.
Filmmaker Farhan Akhtar tweeted, “I’m waiting to see how many people are punished for what they’ve done to #SanjayLeelaBhansali & his crew. There’s enough evidence.” In another tweet, he said, “If u don’t like what he’s making, don’t watch his film. What’s with the violence?? Apart from a vulgar display of self righteousness. My fellow film folk, if we do not unite now against these recurring incidents of bullying, it’s going to get much worse. #IstandbySLB.” Johar tweeted, “I am appalled at what has happened with Sanjay Bhansali. This is the time for all us as an industry to stand by our people and fraternity!!” He added, “Having been through many instances of turmoil during a film shoot or release, I understand Sanjay’s emotion.”