Protests and violence erupts in India over new Bollywood movie

Ben Arnold
Contributor
(Credit: EFE/EPA/DIVYAKANT SOLANKI)

A Bollywood epic about the 14th century Hindu queen Padmavati has caused new outbreaks of violent protest.

The period movie, called Padmavat, had initially been banned from being screened in four states in India, following objections to its content.

However, after the Supreme Court cleared the movie for release, there have been angry protests from extremist Hindu groups.

According to the BBC, buses have been set alight, and a cinema in the state of Gujarat has been vandalised.

More than 100 bus routes in Gujarat have been suspended.

The anger has erupted because of a scene which reputedly implies a romantic overtones between the Rajput queen, played by Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, the highest-paid actress in India, and the Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji, played by Ranveer Singh.

Activists say that this ‘disrespects’ her character, however, the the producers of the movie have denied this.

Petitions from the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been filed in an attempt to have the ban reimposed, fearing further violence and disruption should it hit screens as planned on January 26.

“With the Supreme Court directive that the film should be screened, the government here should display urgency in ensuring that the movie is not released in Gujarat,” said Raj Shekhavat, one of the leaders of the Rajput group Karni Sena, to an Indian news channel.

In November last year, a body was found hanging outside a fort in Rajasthan, with a note that mentioned the film.

“We don’t burn effigies, we hang,” it read.

Police at the time said they were investigating whether it was a murder or a suicide.

The crew on the movie also faced protests when it was being shot last year, while director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was slapped by one angry protester.

Bhansali has denied that the scene causing the protests, said to be a dream sequence between  Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji, even exists.

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