THE film industry rallied behind Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Saturday, with fellow filmmakers tweeting their support and the Film and Television Producers Guild of India Ltd demanding action against those who had attacked him and his crew. Actor Manoj Bajpayee warned political parties against treating the incident lightly. “Such incidents have been happening for a long time, they aren’t just taking place under the current regime. They were as unfortunate when the target was M F Husain as they were when Vivek Agnihotri was attacked in Bengal. What we call fringe elements today will soon be dictating terms to bigger political parties if their arm-twisting goes unchecked. And that’s a scary scenario for everyone, including the bigger political parties that may look in their direction for support during election time.”
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He also regretted that the film industry selectively protests and raises its voice against such incidents. The president of the Film and Television Producers Guild, Siddharth Roy Kapur, issued a statement saying, “Speaking on behalf of the entire film industry, I strongly condemn the acts of vandalism on the sets of Padmavati as a direct attack on freedom of expression in our democracy. The film industry has become the softest target for any fringe group looking for media attention, and we need the strongest possible intervention from the concerned authorities to end this. We urge the government of India and the state government of Rajasthan to take immediate steps to ensure the strongest possible punitive action is taken against these miscreants, so it serves as a deterrent in preventing the recurrence of such unacceptable events in the future.”
While the government is trying to project India as an attractive shooting locale, such miscreants are defeating the ‘Shoot in India’ endeavour, said the statement. Director Kabir Khan tweeted: “1st they stop release of films..now they r trying to stop films from being made. Attack on #SanjayLeelaBhansali is SHAMEFUL #IstandbySLB”. Producer-actor Aamir Khan said he was “deeply saddened and depressed about the attack”.
Filmmaker Farhan Akhtar tweeted, “I’m waiting to see how many people are punished for what they’ve done to #SanjayLeelaBhansali & his crew. There’s enough evidence.” In another tweet, he said, “If u don’t like what he’s making, don’t watch his film. What’s with the violence?? Apart from a vulgar display of self righteousness… My fellow film folk, if we do not unite now against these recurring incidents of bullying, it’s going to get much worse. #IstandbySLB.” Johar tweeted, “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!!” . He added, “Having been through many instances of turmoil during a film shoot or release…i understand Sanjay’s emotion.”