When intrepid Rajputs dare to venture, Brahmins are too smart to be left behind. Sight unseen, the Karni Sena knew what a good deal looked like. It raised hell over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat and propelled itself from the fringe to the mainstream. But why should one community, or those who claim to speak in its name, have all the fun? Late last year, the Sarva Brahman Mahasabha, representing the apex of Manu’s pecking order, joined ranks with them. They lost the game. The agitation is over, now that the film has been released and activists can no longer claim that it hurt Rajput pride when it patently, splendidly supports it. The Karni Sena’s plot-line has been revealed to be inspired fiction, and the whilom activists have turned from vandalising theatres to celebrating the film.
The Sena is now nationally known, but the Sarva Brahman Mahasabha is still on the fringe. And so it has reached out for a lifeline — Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika, a film about Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi. It wants to reprise the Karni Sena’s plot for the happiness of miffed Brahmins everywhere and, hopefully, some political profit for the organisation. It could even broaden the canvas across the gloomily-lit landscape of hurt sentiments, reaching out to millions of miffed Indians diddled by the English in distant history, who can be relied upon to sign up.
The Mahasabha has started out right, betting blind in the fine tradition of teen patti. It has learned its dialogues from the Karni Sena, levelling accusations of distorting history without having seen the film it claims to be upset about. It remains to be seen if governments play their assigned role — to sit about prudently until the climax is safely past, like the police in the movies. But if chief ministers drop their scripts and start ad libbing, the Mahasabha’s game would be up.