Indian politician offers $1.5m bounty for beheading of top Bollywood star

Harriet Pavey

A Hindu nationalist politician has offered a $1.5 million bounty for the heads of a movie star and her director amid backlash over a Bollywood film that allegedly misrepresented a Hindu legend.

Suraj Pal Amu, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, offered the reward for the beheadings of popular actress Deepika Padukone and filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who worked on the movie “Padmavati” together.

The hotly-anticipated film has sparked controversy for depicting a forbidden romance between a Hindu queen and a Muslim ruler. It which was due to hit cinemas on 1 December, but its release has now been postponed.

Based on a 16th century Sufi epic poem, the film tells the story of a Hindu queen who chooses to kill herself rather than be captured by a Muslim sultan. Over the centuries, the tale has come to be seen as history, even though there is little historical evidence to support it.

Members and activists of the Karnataka wing of Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena caste organisation hold posters demanding a ban on Padmavathi (AFP/Getty)

But a romantic dream sequence between the film’s protagonists – the queen (played by Padukone) and a Muslim invader – has caused outrage in India, with opponents claiming history is being misrepresented.

Surajpal Amu told a rally on Sunday: “We will reward the ones beheading [Padukone and Bhansali] with 10 crore rupees, and also take care of their family's needs,” the news agency ANI reported. A crore signifies 10 million rupees.

Members of the Rajput Karni Sena, a group associated with the warrior Rajput caste, have backed Amu’s threats, calling for a nationwide strike over the film. But its director denies distorting history.

India's Supreme Court has refused to ban the controversial film, saying its fate needs to be decided by the country's censor board, India Today reported.

This is not the first time a love scene has sparked controversy in India. “Fifty Shades of Grey” was banned by the censor board and Hollywood movies are routinely scrubbed of sex scenes.