Suraj Pal Amu, above, a member of India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party, yesterday (Sunday) offered a $1.5-m (£1.14-m) bounty to anyone who beheads the lead actress and the director of a yet-to-be released Bollywood film that depicts a romance between a Hindu queen and Muslim ruler.
According to this report, Padmavati was set to be in theaters on December 1 and has caused a firestorm over its alleged handling of the relationship.
After Amu, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader from the northern state of Haryana, offered the bounty against actress Deepika Padukone and filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, above, the film’s producers postponed the release of the Movie.
Speaking at a public rally, Amu said the film would not be allowed to be released at all.
Padmavati is based on a 16th century Sufi epic poem, “Padmavat”, a fictional account of a brave and beautiful Rajput queen Padmini who chose to kill herself rather than be captured by the Muslim sultan of Delhi, Allaudin Khilji. Over the centuries, the tale has come to be seen as history, even though there is little historical evidence to support it.
Padukone plays Padmini, the legendary queen who committed “jauhar”, the medieval Rajput practice in which women of royal households walked into funeral fires to embrace death over the dishonour of being taken captive.
The film has been in trouble since the beginning of the year, with fringe groups in the western state of Rajasthan attacking the film’s set, threatening to burn down theatres that show it and even physically attacking Bhansali in January.
Most of the anger at the film appears to stem from allegations that Bhansali distorted history by filming a romantic dream sequence between the film’s main protagonists. Bhansali has denied the allegations.
Earlier this month, the head of the Rajput Karni Sena in Rajasthan said Padukone should have her nose cut — a symbol of public humiliation — for being part of a film that allegedly insulted the queen.
Today, local government officials vowed to take “stringent action” against those threatening Padukone and others involved in the movie.
The movie has yet to be cleared by India’s board of censors.
In the past, India’s censors board rejected the erotic drama Fifty Shades of Grey, and Hollywood movies that appear on Indian screens are routinely scrubbed of sex scenes. The Da Vinci Code was banned in the Indian state of Goa, which has a large Christian population, because religious groups objected.
In 2014, the publishing house Penguin India pulled from shelves and destroyed all copies of American historian Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History after protests and a lawsuit from a Hindu right-wing group. The group’s main objection was that the book described Hindu mythological texts as fictional.
India-born writer Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses has been banned here since 1998, since many Muslims consider it blasphemous. Rushdie was forced to cancel a 2012 appearance at the Jaipur Literary Festival amid protests and threats by prominent Muslim clerics.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn