Bhansali’s Manhandling Shows How Little It Takes For Indians To Turn ‘Intolerant’

Posted by Prahaas Oldman in Media, Society
January 28, 2017

Nationalism, religion, casteism: The more you focus on one thing, the more everything else gets blurred.

Very much like his movies, seldom does Ram Gopal Varma succeed in making a fair point. Owing to the incident that transpired on January 27, 2017, the director sent out a series of tweets that stated a blunt but true fact. Discarding the phoney pride that innumerable Indians, mostly from the Rajput clan must have had derived from the incident – the manhandling of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the exemplary director of our generation, is still a heroic accomplishment for them. For now, three names have surfaced afresh in the minds of the population of the entire nation – Padmavati, Khilji, and the Karni Sena.

Members of the Indian film fraternity, as well as many from the masses, are enraged, for they realise the gravity of the situation, which is blatantly ignored by fanatics who willingly blindfold themselves with ethics that won’t sell for a dime in the market of humanity.

Let me infuse my viewpoint in here. I am in love with films, but Bhansali’s “Bajirao Mastani” didn’t appeal to me, for I believe every character was just so full of itself. I liked his earlier works, of the likes of ‘Khamoshi’. I believe the grander his films became with time; the more hollow was their essence. This is to say; I am no fanboy. But patron or not, what’s right is right and stating otherwise would be nothing short of having an immature opinion.

The incident in question occurred at Jaigarh’s Fort in Jaipur, a monument that perhaps, our forefathers built. We Indians, do care for our ancestors, we preserve our history, we very carefully and devotedly tend to the imprints left behind by our forebearers, but alas, we only forget one thing, and scenarios as such remind us from time to time, that perhaps they are not worth remembering – the morals of the teachings of our forefathers.

We are the citizens of an independent country, having just celebrated our 68th Republic day, and yet artists in our nation are being thrashed by fanatics, for what they assume to be – distortion of history, not entirely facts, but history of a time, the written records of which shall forever be open to one’s interpretation. This is what that happened around noon when Bhansali and his crew were engaged in the pre-production work of his upcoming magnum opus, “Padmavati”. Members of a particular ‘Rajput’ outfit namely ‘Karni Sena’, breached the sets of the film and hustled the director along with vandalising the set.

Like always, these goons and thugs with a unicorn of a cause in their head had their reasons. They had a reason to violate private property, they had a reason to assault a person, they had a reason to take the law into their hands, and they always have a reason to pass a breadcrumb of a judgment and instantly act on it.

According to these mafia men, Bhansali was allegedly portraying a love affair between Rani Padmini and the barbarous Khilji, which was nothing short of being an abomination, for when Khilji’s army was marching towards Chittor and their victory of inevitable, the queen along with other loyal ladies, committed ‘Jauhar’, that is, burned themselves alive in a pyre of fire, in order to save themselves from being tarnished at the hands of the enemy.

Firstly, this is one account of the incident, and the inevitable truth is that there exists many. Rani Padmini committed ‘Jauhar’ in the year 1303, and that was centuries ago. Hence apart from a few facts, every facet of the incident is open to interpretation, and any person is open to interpret, and any mind possesses the liberty to challenge any form of interpretation in a verbal manner.

Secondly, are these muscular Karni Sena members, panto maths? Funny, how thugs as such, of the likes of Karni Sena, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena et al. are aptly supplied with factual information upon which the crux of their violence not only rests but is also justified. For instance, in the Bhansali fiasco, these so-called Rajputs were quite thoroughly familiar with the screenplay of ‘Padmavati’ – perhaps Mr Bhansali himself might have given them a reading the previous evening, thereby enraging them. They seemed to know everything. Or perhaps they knew nothing.

The Karni Sena was formed in 2006 and since – after more than a decade, barely a few knew who they were. Thus they thereby decided to attract some attention that was due. They call themselves Rajputs, they take pride in being a Rajput, but their actions speak louder than words. Rajput or not Rajput, we are composed of the same blood and bone, in the end, we all are ashes. As if perhaps religion was not enough, they divided the religion into caste to take the streak of discrimination further ahead – and as if that was not enough, they chopped up the castes and classified the pieces into clans. Division of anything has forever resulted in violence. Period.

And such a form of violence is guided by ego and is greeted with pride – it’s not all right, the limits have been crossed, and the lines have been blurred, for let alone the goons, the literate Indian masses have stormed the social platform of Twitter justifying the honorable actions of the ‘Karni Sena’. In such times, the people too deserve an applause. To go and greet Trump seems like a better idea than to consider their tweets seriously.

These are the views of the people of an independent nation, these are the people who definitely are not the goons involved in the mistreatment of a film crew, but they definitely are the bullies who stand around and derive a sense of enjoyment out of the harassment of innocents. They are, in fact, in the same ballpark.

They do not know any better than the Karni Sena thugs, they might not know about Queen Padmini and Khilji, but they would definitely have their say, they definitely want to be heard, they desperately want to suppress the voice of creative freedom in the nation and sit back and enjoy, until the moment, their own rights are snatched off.

They don’t understand this, today Bhansali’s freedom to express Bansali is targeted, tomorrow their liberty shall be burnt at stake, and they would have played the key role of a catalyst in their own downfall. The tweets contain the words of the likes of ‘lies’, ‘facts’, ‘wrong message’, ‘publicity stunt’, ‘dignity’, ‘liberty’ et al. – creating an issue out of an assumption that Bhansali was not familiar with the facts.

Well, are you? Are you all familiar with what’s written between the lines of the film, ‘Padmavati’, that has not yet been released. Empty words, empty threats, empty actions and an empty mindset. Yes, we are progressing, but in which direction? We are all stranger to the answer, I believe.

It was about the Karni Sena and the dignity of the memory of Rani Padmini. These thugs must really respect women, I suppose. What do they do when they are not in the news for rallying against films and soap operas? I believe, they must be revolting against the acts of sex-selective abortion. I believe every young girl is like Rani Padmini in essence, beautiful and brave and I also realise that Rajasthan is one of the biggest hubs of the grotesque act mentioned earlier.

After a decade of their formation, I believe, the members of Karni Sena must be on the verge of stopping such horrid deeds that transpire in their environment, after all, they flourish with nothing but blessed ideals. Or do they not interfere? If not, shame. You know, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is still the real winner, the hero. He doesn’t need to impose his beliefs or viewpoints on others with the aid of muscle.

He will finish his film, and come November, the members of the Karni Sena shall rub their nose on its release poster, in some corner and then perhaps, it shall dawn upon the masses what Bhansali was trying to portray, and the good old Karni Sena shall disappear yet again, for the good of the people of this nation.


Featured image source: NDTV/Twitter