Cleared for release with a 12A rating by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the historical epic Padmavati, which depicts the life of a legendary 14th century queen Padmini, has become embroiled in a row about its historical accuracy.
Members of the Rajput Karni Sena, a group associated with the warrior Rajput caste, claim it misrepresents history by depicting a love affair between the queen and a Muslim invader. The group is further upset that the queen’s midriff is exposed in a song sequence.
The release of the highly anticipated blockbuster was delayed after a politician from India’s governing party offered a bounty of $1.5m for the heads of the movie’s star Deepika Padukone and director Leela Bhansali.
Repeated denials that any such scene exists have failed to assuage increasingly violent threats against cast and crew.
Now the leader of Rajput Karni Sena, Sukhdev Singh has called for action to be taken in the UK.
“I call on Hindus in the UK and particularly my community brothers to protest against the screening of the film there,” he told Republic TV.
He added: “I have told them any cinema hall which screens the movie will be burnt.”
Mr Singh is unable to travel to Britain to lead the protests because his passport has been confiscated by the Indian authorities.
Another Hindu group has already threatened attacks on Indian cinemas screening the film, warning, “Our members are trained in handling a large array of weapons ranging from swords to AK-47s.”
Though members of right-wing groups have been briefly arrested for making threats in the past, legal action against them is rarely pursued by the Indian government.
The film has been dogged with trouble throughout production and shooting was moved at one point after a gang vandalised the set and beat up the Mr Bhansali.
Then earlier this week Surajpal Amu, a state-level media coordinator of Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told a rally: “We will reward the ones beheading [Padukone and Bhansali] with Rs 10 crore, and also take care of their family’s needs.” A crore signifies 10 million rupees.
Amu repeated the statement to The Indian Express. Video from the rally also showed Amu saying: “There’s no need to discuss making cuts to the film. We won’t allow it to play in theatres at all.”
An official from the BJP condemned Amu and said the party was considering taking legal action against him, but Mr Modi has remained silent on the matter.
“It’s absolutely appalling. What have we gotten ourselves into? And where have we reached as a nation?” said the actress Padukone who plays the leading role of queen Padmavati .
“We have regressed,” added the star who recently appeared in xXx: Return of Xander Cage alongside Vin Diesel. “The only people we are answerable to is the censor board, and I know and I believe that nothing can stop the release of this film.”
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