An interesting headline arrested my attention. A bounty for a ravishingly attractive actress. A bloodsucking parasite has offered 1.9 million reward to anyone who beheads the actress for performing in the role of Rani Padmavati who falls in love with a muslim ruler in the film ‘Padmavati’ directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Once I recovered from the initial shock of reading the newsitem, my perplexity of the reasons behind such an irrational decision hurled me into few minutes of intense internet browsing. The film is an appropriation of the epic poem ‘Padmavat’ composed by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, which captures the lust of Turko-Afghan ruler Alauddin Khilji for Rani Padmavati, a queen of Singhal Kingdom, Chittoor with famous actress Deepika Padukone in the lead role as Padmavati.
Try as I might I could not disregard the stupidity behind the unnecessary protest and commotion because this is isn’t the first time that a creative mind has ventured to do something different, which is offering a different perspective on relationships and motivations. Hindutva has not been challenged or undermined in any way. The annals of history has portrayed Rani Padmavati as a chaste and pure woman, who instead of succumbing to the lust of Khilji, chose to be loyal to her dead husband and to self-immolate herself by jumping into a burning funeral pyre. What the protesters need to comprehend is that the film is an appropriation of the epic poem and not a manipulative and distorted representation of history. India, being a democratic country, should not interfere with the freedom of expression as no one, other than few political activists with vested interests. is looking forward to reaping some unclear benefits by exploiting the situation.
This reward for the head of the actress, Deepika Padukone, highlights the urgency and immediacy with which an income tax raid should be conducted at the Indian Hindu Nationalist Ruling Party (BJP) member, Suraj Pal Amu’s residence as he has 1.9 million on him to satisfy his whims and fancies. On the other hand, when I looked at the actress’s photographs at the film festival with absolutely no apprehension of the threat to her very existence, it made me wonder if the protest was a publicity stunt to increase the box office sales once the film is released. If Rani Padmvati and Alauddin Khilji were born in the 21st century, romance between the hindu and the muslim would not have been such an improbable notion, especially with happily married couples like Zerina Wahab-Aditya Pancholi, Farah Khan-Shirish Khunder, Arbaaz Khan-Mallaika Arora, Hritithik Roshan-Suzanne Khan and hundreds of others.