Shyam Benegal Opens Up About The Padmavati Controversy

The veteran director has raised a pertinent question, “Isn’t it the government’s job to prevent threats to filmmakers?”

Padmavati, Controversy, Shyam Benegal, allegations, Deepika Padukone, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Release postponed

Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the lead actress Deepika Padukone have been receiving all sorts of threats from the so-called “protectors of the culture”.

In a latest bid to gain legitimacy, members of the Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha (ABKM) announced a Rs 1 crore reward for anyone who burns Padukone alive.

"Deepika should know how it feels like to be burnt alive. The actress will never know the sacrifice of the queen. Any person burning her alive will be given Rs 1 crore. We demand that office- bearers of the organisation be shown the movie before it is released," ABKM's youth wing leader Bhuvneshwar Singh said.

ABKM members also burnt effigies of Padukone who is playing the titular role in the film.

It is hard to believe that people who claim to be opposing the film so that the dignity of Rani Padmavati remains intact, are actually saying such derogatory things to another woman!

What is even more shocking that in a democracy, a creative professional is being criticised and threatened for having a perspective!

It does not end here, Yesterday, a BJP office-bearer from Haryana announced a 10 crore bounty on the heads of Padukone and Bhansali, an inflammatory threat that has shocked people, but failed to attract the attention of lawmakers.

Surajpal Amu, the party's chief media coordinator, has even threatened to "break the legs" of Ranveer Singh, who Alauddin Khilji in the film.

How good are we at making assumptions? All these threats and random claims about the film’s content are being made without even watching the film!

Amidst all this chaos, veteran director Shyam Benegal, who has been put in charge of drafting new guidelines for the Central Board of Film Certification, on Sunday, questioned the government for its silence. A question that should have been raised the moment these allegations and threatening began.

Benegal said, “This is a democracy. People may not agree with what I have to say but I have the right to say. Will people ask for heads publicly and offer money for the lives of those who disagree with them, and the state will do nothing to prevent it? The Home department and the police should move in immediately and offer protection. That would be the thing to do. When chief ministers and members of government adopt such an approach, what else will the administration do?”

“Else, isn’t it the job of government to prevent (threats of) murders and attacks when being made publicly on national TV? People are being threatened publicly,” he added.

Criticising the dropping of the films NUDE and S Durga from the International Film Festival of India, the director said, “There are certain rules and conventions about film festivals internationally. The decisions of the jury must be respected. Governments cannot tamper with those decisions. Else, they must scrap the jury and make their own selections. What stops the government from just going ahead with their own set of films? Why claim to have a jury at all?”

“Films that are entered in festivals are meant to be pre-censored and as pristine as possible, as art forms which are pure creative expressions. That is the basic premise of international film festivals, which seems to have been violated here in this instance,” he added.

The release date of Padmavati has been postponed indefinitely because of the constant threats.

Such instances make one question the place of the freedom of expression in the Indian democracy!

Information source: indianexpress

Cover iamge surce: twitter, mymotionpicture

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Manali Kulkarni (WRITER)

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