When National Award-winning film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was slapped and assaulted in Jaipur on the sets of his film, among the first few to come out in his support was filmmaker Karan Johar, who took to Twitter to support the Padmavati auteur. Karan should know just how hazardous it is to be a part of the film industry in India in today’s day and time.
Hazardous, you ask? Isn’t Bollywood the cushiest job in India – money, popularity and glam all rolled into one giant goody bag? To understand how Bollywood probably entered the ranks of India’s most hazardous professions, we need to understand Bhansali’s case. Why was he attacked? The ‘protesters’ who took the law in their hands alleged India’s morality was (yet) again under attack by the ‘liberals’ in Bollywood. Bhansali’s Padmavati, for which he was in Jaipur, is inspired by Rani Padmini’s tale and was thereby supposed to be besmirching the name of Rajput queen. So, did the so-called protesters watch the film and not agree with its content? Were they privy to its script and dialogues? Or they had inside information that the director was bent on distorting history? No, none of the above. They had, maybe, heard the film will have Deepika Padukone’s Padmini romancing Ranveer Singh’s Alauddin Khilji in a dream sequence.
This is a piece of news that has been dismissed entirely by the film’s crew. In fact, the film’s makers and its cast have been insistent that nothing of the sort was part of the film. Deepika took to Twitter to share, “As Padmavati I can assure you that there is absolutely no distortion of history. Our only endeavour is & has always been to share with the world the story of this courageous & powerful woman in the purest form there is.”
But before the self-appointed guardians of our morality attacked Bhansali, they didn’t even wait to check the reason for it. They attacked a man over a film which is not even made, over a script they had no chance of getting their hands on.
The aim of the protesters was not to safeguard history, it was to make an example of Bhansali and make headlines. They did it with the Khans after their intolerance remarks, they made an example of Karan Johar for casting a Pakistani actor in his film when India’s ties with its neighbour had strained. Even Karan’s patriotism was questioned.
See pics from Padmavati sets in Jaipur:
The celebs apologised and made up in their own ways and took a vow of silence. They said their films being boycotted and banned don’t just affect them but the team and crew as well.
But the problem with bullies is that they don’t know when to stop. The attack on Bhansali is the proof. And appallingly, after the attack on him, the news reports cited a police official as saying that the Padmavati makers have “assured that they will not shoot here and will pack up.” So, instead of promising safety to the crew, the police are reporting pack-up. Another one silenced, morality saved for yet another day.
Till now, the fight between moral brigade and Bollywood has been one-sided. They assert and actors, filmmakers give way or go silent. Karan made a start as he wrote, “Having been through many instances of turmoil during a film shoot or release…i understand Sanjay’s emotion at this point…I stand by him… Am appalled at what has happened with Sanjay Bhansali….this is the time for all us as an industry to stand by our people and fraternity!!”
Bollywood will do well to remember Martin Luther King, Jr’s words, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamour of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Anurag Kashyap, the one to never mince his words has already given a voice to it, “Can once the whole film industry come together and take a stand, and refuse to be a pony that all … ride on?? “he asked.
It is time Bollywood stood up for itself, as one body, as a force because as a changemaker the power that Bollywood enjoys is unparalleled. To give into parochial forces will not just be unfortunate for the industry, it will be unfortunate for us as a nation.
Meryl Streep has a message for all people creative when she said at Golden Globes, “As my, as my friend, the dear departed Princess Leia, said to me once: ‘Take your broken heart, make it into art.’” Bhansali, Johar, Kashyap and their frat can do nothing better.