Actor Shefali Shah says the death threats to actor Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali by fringe groups, who are protesting against Padmavati, are appalling and shameful.
Padmavati, which is based on the life of Rajput queen Padmini, is mired in controversy. From sections of the Rajput community to now many political groups have been demanding a ban on the film, alleging that Bhansali has distorted history. Recently, some of the protesters issued death threats to Deepika and Bhansali.
When asked about her take on the open threats that the film’s team has been receiving, Shefali Shah told mediapersons, “It’s shameful. You go on national television and they allow you to say something like this. It’s appalling. When we talk about feminism, the term has been used very wrongly of late. We talk about being equal – in cast, creed, gender, colour.”
The actor, speaking at the press meet of her latest short film Juice, added that it is sad that artistes are being deprived of creative liberties, which they should rather be allowed to take.
“What about the democracy? There is a certain creative liberty an actor or a director is allowed to take. Obviously, that doesn’t seem to be visible anymore. It’s really shameful,” she said.
Also present at the press conference was National Award-winning filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan, who has directed Juice.
Calling out the current law-less situation that the Padmavati team is facing, in the harshest words, Ghaywan said he is ashamed of being a citizen of India, where no action has been taken against the death threats to its biggest female star.
“I was genuinely appalled. I was ashamed of myself as a citizen. To see that a fringe—which is the new mainstream—goon can come out on national TV and announce that he is going to give Rs 5 crore for Deepika’s head or nose and then it’s upto Rs 10 crore to burn her alive.
“The television channel is allowing that. We are seeing it and nothing has happened to them. That is the state we are in,” he said.
Neeraj Ghaywan also spoke against the removal of Nude and S Durga from International Film Festival of India (IFFI) by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry without giving any reason or informing the fest’s jury about its decision.
“We all are feeling the pressure of it. Sexy Durga and Nude were not allowed in IFFI. These are the times we want to question and bring in some change,” said the Masaan director.
Coming back to the controversy surrounding Padmavati, Neeraj Ghaywan said it pains him to see that an actor is being targeted by people in their bid to protect the honour of a character (Queen Padmini), the existence of whom is questionable.
“Something, which deeply hurt me, was how the biggest star of our country is threatened like this on national TV and there are no charges, no arrests being done so far. It is done in fact to save the honour of a fictitious woman. How ironical the times are. It’s really shocking,” he said.
The director called for Indian cinema artistes to stand united.
“As a fraternity, we should come together and talk about how someone is threatening to kill our own female stars, directors and actors. We should unite and stand for this,” added Neeraj.