Of Padmavati, Politics, Daughters in Law and Floccinaucinihilipilification

I had almost made it through the day without a ‘Padmavati’ story when this post surfaced.

By Prasad Sanyal | Updated: Nov 29, 2017, 22:51 PM IST

I had almost made it through the day without a ‘Padmavati’ story when this post surfaced.

Just as it seemed the controversy over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmavati’ was waning, it seems to have twirled itself back to centerstage courtesy a video of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s ‘choti bahu’ dancing to the song ‘Ghoomar from the film. 

Aparna Yadav, the wife of the Samajwadi party chief’s younger son, Prateek was dancing at a gathering to mark her brother’s engagement- an otherwise accepted practice of ‘Sangeet’ prevalent in most of north India - when she was filmed and the video has since gone viral on social platforms. 

Aparna’s brother Aman Bisht got engaged at a five-star hotel in Lucknow on Sunday, November 26. 

What otherwise would have passed off as an innocuous performance seems to have caught the imagination of social media, and given a fresh handle to Rajput fringe groups like Shree Karni Sena to continue with their protests. 

Why the video went viral can be explained in part by one of two things — Mulayam Singh Yadav’s rather conservative image which raises curiosity about this performance by his daughter-in-law and makes it unusual; and the choice of the song - perhaps eminently danceable but still from a film which has been mired in controversy in recent times and was perhaps best avoided. 

Among other things that are awry about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film, Rajput outfits find the depiction of Padmavati (portrayed by Deepika Padukone) dancing as despicable and have made quite a song and dance about it. The Karni Sena has been leading protests against what they say is a depiction of Padmavati - a Rajput princess - in poor light. Padmavati stars Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh and was slated for release on December 1. The release has been indefinitely postponed owing to protests across the country. 

In this melee, the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss a plea that sought to ban the release of the film outside India has come not just as a welcome relief for the filmmakers and those associated with it, but also as a clarion call to voices of reason. The Supreme Court has also said those in public offices should not comment on the film censor board’s workings after public comments against the film by top politicians in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

But there seems to be no reasoning with the Karni Sena who now want the Prime Minister to intervene. A nationwide ban is in the jurisdiction of the government of India as per a section in the Cinematography Act. The Centre can ban a film even before or after clearance by the censor board," Lokendra Singh Kalvi, founder-patron of the Rajput Karni Sena, said at a press conference in Jaipur yesterday.

I’m busy trying to get through a day where we may discuss issues of greater national relevance or importance and, as a digital journalist, grapple with how stories on Padmavati are the most read day after day - stories that have started quoting people of little or no value making little or no sense - a mass exercise in floccinaucinihilipilification.

Bottomline: We need to be more pragmatic about a film in 21st century India based on a 16th century fable of a 14th century Rajput princess and the Muslim ruler of Delhi. This isn’t about history at all — whether she existed or not isn’t the question — certain creative liberties were available to Malik Muhammad Jayasi when his wrote is epic poem ‘Padmavat’ and we should certainly extend the same liberties to Sanjay Leela Bhasali. It’s a Bollywood film with songs, dance and superstars — let it be that and nothing more.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)