ON A day when the Padmavati film set was vandalised in Kolhapur, Rajasthan’s Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Arun Chaturvedi said that the film would be screened before a committee of the Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena (SRRKS) “and other knowledgeable members of society” and their “objections would be invited” before its release in the state. The minister met a delegation of leaders from the SRRKS, Rashtriya Brahman Mahasangh and Rajasthan Vaishya Mahasabha at his residence on Wednesday. “The delegation has been assured that we have put a hold on the shooting of the film in the state. And even if it is released in the state, it will be screened before members of SRRKS and other knowledgeable members of society, from whom we will invite objections to the movie,” the minister’s department quoted him as saying.
“The government’s stand is that the filmmakers won’t be allowed to shoot Padmavati in Rajasthan anymore. As for its release, that can happen only once its script is bereft of all objections which have been raised by these organisations,” Chaturvedi told The Indian Express. In January, Shri Rajput Karni Sena (SRKS) members had manhandled filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and vandalised the film set while they were shooting at the Jaigarh Fort here. The SRRKS, which met Chaturvedi on Wednesday, is a splinter group of the SRKS. Meanwhile, some unidentified miscreants vandalised the Padmavati film set at Mhasai Pathar in Kolhapur district in the early hours of Wednesday. Police said the costumes and the animal feed kept there for the horses featuring in the period drama were torched.
According to the police, a group of about 20 people stormed the film set between 1 am and 2 am on Wednesday. “Bhansali had asked for police protection during the day which was provided. However, the set was not provided any protection during the night,” said Mahadev Tambade, SP, Kolhapur. “The sets of Padmavati in Kolhapur in Maharashtra region witnessed an unfortunate incident last night at around 12:30 am, when certain miscreants attacked the film’s set and set it on fire in an attempt to damage the property. A complaint has been filed to investigate this matter further, but we are grateful that there has been no loss of life or harm to anybody on the set… The incident occurred after we had wrapped our shoot for the day and all the artistes, cast and crew were safely away. Unfortunately, about 70-80 per cent of costumes and jewellery for the movie have been destroyed,” said a spokesperson for Bhansali Productions.
Following the incident, the film’s crew has been provided police protection, Maharashtra’s Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar said. In Rajasthan, the SRKS hailed the “Hindutva organisation” behind the incident. “We salute the Hindutva organisation which vandalised the sets of the film… It was undertaken by a like-minded organisation and we have been in touch with them,” said Mahipal Singh, state president of SRKS. “This has now become a movement across the nation and like-minded organisations are taking it up on their own,” Singh said.
On March 5, SRKS also destroyed two mirrors at the Chittorgarh Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in protest against a legend associated with Padmini. According to legend, Padmini’s face was shown to Alauddin Khilji in these mirrors. “Our warnings were ignored by the district administration. In the script too, Shobha Sant (CEO of Bhansali Productions) had insisted on a scene where Khilji sees Rani Padmini in the mirror. We constantly raised this issue with them but there was no follow-up by the flmmakers. So we salute those who vandalised their set today,” Singh said.