As the Supreme Court cleared the decks for the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat it also asked the state governments to ensure that the responsibility of maintaining law and order in was theirs and they could not shirk away this responsibility. The apex court also negated the steps of preventing the release of the movie in certain states by rejecting the notifications passed by some state governments such as Rajasthan and Haryana prohibiting the exhibition of Padmaavat in cinema halls.
The movie, which was earlier titled Padmavati, was renamed as Padmaavat by the filmmaker after the suggestion by the Central Board of Film Certification. The new name of the movie is the same as that of the epic poem written by poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540.
While some other states dithered over the release of the movie and had to be compelled to ensure its release by the Supreme Court, Yogi Adityanath led Uttar Pradesh showed the way in calling out the bluff of fringe groups such as Karni Sena. Karni Sena had even attacked Sanjay Leela Bhansali in January 2017 on the sets of the movie in Jaipur.
In the wake of the attack on a school bus in Gurugram, allegedly by Karni Sena, there has been widespread condemnation of the incident. Lokendra Singh Kalvi, the head of Karni Sena had recently met the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to demand a ban on the film Padmaavat. However, Chief Minister Yogi has ensured that the movie is not only released in the state, but also adequate security is provided to cinema halls exhibiting Padmaavat and the movie-goers. Cities such as Lucknow and Noida in the state witnessed heavy police deployment to prevent any vandalism by Karni Sena and other lumpen elements. Since the release of the film on January 25, no incidents of violence by groups such as Karni Sena have been reported from the state.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered the state police to be “tough” on those protesting against Padmaavat. Speaking to NDTV, Siddharth Nath Singh, the Health Minister in Yogi Government said, “We will ensure safety to the theatres and take stern action against those taking law and order into their hands”. In Noida, policemen could be seen present even inside some multiplexes to ensure strict compliance with the order of the Yogi Government. Importantly, the state of Uttar Pradesh had not issued any order banning the release of the movie in the state even earlier.
The Uttar Pradesh Police even arrested one Thakur Karan Singh the head of Karni Sena’s Uttar Pradesh unit who was absconding after the vandalism at the DND Toll Booth in Noida. While the Yogi Adityanath Government has come down heavily on those who have taken law into their hands, it has also allowed peaceful protesters such as those offering roses as part of their protest to the movie-goers in Lucknow requesting them to boycott the movie.
Such a balanced approach by the Yogi Adityanath Government has given out a clear message that while those indulging in acts of breach of law and order will not be spared, those who are protesting peacefully will not be subverted since in a democracy anyone has a right to peacefully protest on any issue.
Groups such as Karni Sena have claimed the movie Padmaavat insults the Rajput community. So far, various reports, reviews and those who have watched the movie have claimed that there is nothing in the movie that can be said to be against the Rajput community. In fact, the movie has even glorified the Rajput community and categorically portrays Alauddin Khilji as a diabolical person with a cruel and sadistic bent of mind. With the Uttar Pradesh Government under Yogi Adityanath getting very tough with those disturbing law and order in the state, it is high time that even members of the Karni Sena watch the movie under the effective security provided by the state government to the cinema halls screening Padmaavat. They may actually end up at least appreciating the romance, chemistry and relationship between Alauddin Khilji and his eunuch slave Malik Kafur shown in the movie.