New Delhi Shri Rajput Karni Sena, the outfit which famously led a movement against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus "Padmaavat", has claimed the outfit is not involved in the protests against Kangana Ranaut's "Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi".
Denying reports about the outfit opposing the period drama, its national spokesperson and ex-major Dr Himanshu said Shri Rajput Karni Sena's name is being used for vested interests.
"We are not opposing 'Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi' till we don't have anything substantial from the family, region or the community," Himanshu told IANS over the phone.
"These people, I believe, are using the name of Karni Sena for their own vested interests and they are bringing disrepute to Karni Sena and to the historical characters," he added.
"Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi" captures the life story of Rani Laxmibai and her fight against the British. Kangana plays the lead role in the film, produced by Zee Studios in association with Kamal Jain and Nishant Pitti, and releasing on January 25.
According to reports, the Maharashtra wing of the Karni Sena protested against the film on Thursday alleging that the period drama "alludes to Rani Laxmibai's relationship with a British officer". The reports also said Karni Sena is opposed to the film showing the queen dancing to a special number, saying it is against tradition. They asked the makers of the film to show them the movie before its release.
Himanshu says "we disown and completely dissociate ourselves" from all such claims.
"Supposedly, the family has a problem. They can come to us and if they seek support from us and have a valid reason (we will take it in consideration)... I was in Jhansi recently and nobody said anything of this nature," Himanshu said.
He continued: "Our approach is very clear, if the family, community or the region approaches us or the historians have some reservations... Supposedly, they approach us and we are convinced with the logic of that, we will take a stand. But we will cross the bridge when the river comes."
Himanshu says "this is the official stand of Karni Sena".
"First and foremost, we should be clear which Karni Sena (has protested). Anybody who pops up and says 'I am Karni Sena', cannot be Karni Sena."
Asked if he thinks the outfit's name is being used for vested interests, Himanshu said: "Yes. In the case of 'Padmaavat', some people became Karni Sena members. They were prominent faces on TV claiming to be from Karni Sena. But in the last 12 years, we didn't even see them once. They bring a bad name to us."
He says the objection should either come from "the family or the historians as in the case of 'Padmaavat'".
Recalling the whole stir around "Padmaavat", based on 16th century poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi's poem "Padmavat", Himanshu said: "The family had reservations and they were not consulted... We had reached out to the government, the states and the censor board as well. We went to almost every Chief Minister and 11 CMs gave it to us in writing that they had reservations about the movie.
"Either the protests should be proper, or it should have some substance. Protests just for the sake and somebody running the shop in the name of the Karni Sena is objectionable from our side and it should be discouraged from the media side also."
"Padmaavat", starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, was caught in a row in 2017 after protests from Shri Rajput Karni Sena which contended that it distorts historical facts and dents the pride of the Rajput community.