BOLLYWOOD: Protesters in India’s Gujarat have blocked roads and caused local bus services to be suspended, after the Supreme Court cleared the release of controversial Bollywood film Padmavat.
Extremist Hindu groups torched buses and vandalised a theatre in the western state of Gujarat on Sunday.
Despite the court ruling and tightened security, theatre owners in the state have decided against screening the film as they fear further violence.
Padmavat will release on 25 January.
The film tells the story of a 14th Century Hindu queen belonging to the high Rajput caste and the Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji. Bollywood stars Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh play the lead roles.
Hindu groups and Rajput caste organisations allege that the movie, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, depicts an intimate romantic scene between the two characters, which they say “disrespects” her character. The producers of the film deny this.
Last week, the court cleared the film’s release and overturned the decision by four states to ban its screening.
Protests against the release of controversial movie Padmaavat reached NCR as 15 people were arrested after the DND toll plaza in Noida was vandalised by people claiming to be from Shri Rajput Karni Sena and other fringe groups.
In Gurgaon, several rallies and protests were organised by the group’s members who burnt effigies of the movie’s producer-director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
The incident took place when the supporters of many fringe groups were heading towards the malls in Noida to protest the release of the movie in the multiplexes there. When intercepted by Noida Police, the crowd disbanded into groups and around 150-200 of them headed towards the DND Flyway. These protesters then proceeded to create ruckus at the now-defunct toll plaza of the Delhi-Noida-Direct Flyway at around 3pm on Sunday, Noida officials said.
“We have arrested 15 persons for vandalism which took place at the DND toll plaza. These men from various fringe groups like Bajrang Dal, Karni Sena, Kshatriya Sena, Hindu Vahini and many others were armed and were in their personal cars and bikes,” said Arun Kumar Singh, superintendent of police (city).
In Gurgaon, the protestors blocked traffic at Sohna Road and MG Road around noon, officials said.
“We visited all the cinema halls on MG Road and Sohna Road. We handed them a memorandum asking them not to screen the movie Padmaavat. It was a peaceful protest as we wanted to put our point across that we will not allow the movie to be screened in Gurgaon,” said Jitender Singh Chauhan, who claimed to be the national executive member of the Karni Sena.
“If the movie is screened at Gurgaon theatres, we will intensify our protest. On Sunday, there were only 800 of us, but if the movie is shown then we will gather over 5,000 protestors. Bhansali has distorted historical facts in the movie, which is unacceptable,” said Devender Raghav, district president of Karni Sena from Bhondsi.