Sanjay Leela Bhansali
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Rajputs: Will stall screening of Padmavati if there's distortion of historical facts

By HT

Rajput organisations in the country are trying to outdo each other in their attempt to stall the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati after the Jaipur-based Shri Rajput Karni Sena disrupted shooting of the epic drama.

In January, the Karni Sena made headlines after it attacked the crew of the Padmavati, including Bhansali, at the film’s set in Rajasthan. The group was demanding that Bhansali scrap any reference to a romantic alliance between Rani Padmavati, whose existence has been disputed by several historians, and 14th-century Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji.

The Karni Sena claimed that Padmini was a proud queen who took her own life rather than submitting to Khilji, who attacked the Chittorgarh Fort.

Last week, the Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha (ABKM) passed a resolution against the movie at its national convention held at Kurukshetra in Haryana and dubbed Karni Sena a “fringe” group that has “compromised” the community’s stand on the upcoming film.

AKBM, which claims to be the oldest and biggest organisation of Rajputs with many erstwhile royals as its state presidents, plans to launch nationwide protests in the third week of March from Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, followed by Patna on April 2.

In a letter to Union information and broadcasting ministry, the mahasabha has warned that it will stall the screening of the movie if there is any “distortion of historical facts”.

Its leaders, cutting across party lines such as Gulchain Singh Charak of the Congress, also met Chandigarh administrator and Punjab governor VP Badnore, who belongs to the Rajput community, last week. The office of the governor said Badnore met mahasabha leaders but gave no assurance on the movie.

The organisation claimed it had earlier held protests against Jodha-Akbar, a television series based on Mughal history, and forced its producers, Balaji Productions, to delete “objectionable” scenes.

“We are a 120-year-old organisation. We have Maharaja Raghubir Singh Sarohi and Maharaja Digvijay Sinh from Gujarat as members. Most movies show Rajputs as villains. But this one is an insult to our national heroes,” mahasabha’s national working president Mahendra Singh Tanwar said.

“There are two Karni Senas and they are quarreling among themselves. We are not with them,” he added.

The Karni Sena, on its part, said it started the protests against Jodha Akbar and relented only after Balaji Productions held talks with them and assured them of removing “objectionable” content.

Rajput Sabha, another organisation, has also demanded that a screening committee should be formed before the release of ‘Padmavati’ and its title be changed.

The mahasabha, which has a rival group by the same name, currently headed by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh of Amethi, denied it is trying to hog the limelight over the issue.

Bhansali Productions did not respond to Hindustan Times’ request for a reaction to the mahasabha’s demands.