Bollywood Controversial Movie “Padmaavat” releases today
(AFP): Bollywood Controversial Movie “Padmaavat” releases today. Thousands of police in riot gear guarded cinemas across India today among threats of violence by Hindu vicious star opposed to the release of a movie about a legendary Hindu queen and a Muslim king.
The Bollywood epic still opened in nearly 5,000 cinemas across the country early Thursday under heightened security.
Paramilitary forces and police in riot gear manned barriers around cinemas in New Delhi, Mumbai and other main cities.
According to radical groups, the film falsely portrays Queen Padmavati. The producers strongly deny the claim while most historians doubt that Padmavati even existed.
Passionate groups belonging to India’s Rajput caste, who revere Padmavati, have lead protests against the film for nearly a year. They have been supported by other Hindu groups since the film was cleared by the state censor this month.
Nearly 250 accused have been arrested over the rampage, Gujarat state home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja said late Wednesday.
The film drew few spectators at early morning screenings in New Delhi as police erected iron barricades outside theatres that did not display promotional posters to avoid any backlash.
Sanjay Bhargava, manager at a New Delhi cinema, told AFP there was an “atmosphere of fear” due to the threats but he still expected a busy weekend.
protected by dozens of police, in the central Connaught Place district, Bhargav said outside his cinema, “As of now there is a bit of fear but with foolproof police protection, we hope things will improve soon.”
Opponents claim the movie features a romantic liaison between Padmavati and 14th century Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji despite repeated denials by filmmakers.
The movie’s producers say the film celebrates Rajputs, who were traditionally warriors.
Trouble first hit the movie in January last year when Rajput Karni Sena members attacked the film’s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and vandalised the set during filming in Rajasthan.
Members of the fringe groups have threatened to attack cinemas while hundreds of women have said they are ready to perform a mass self-immolation if screenings go ahead.
States including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab tried to ban the film but India’s Supreme Court ruled that this would violate creative freedoms.
“Padmaavat” stars Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh, the husband of Padmavati, and Ranveer Singh as Khilji who leads an invasion to try to capture the queen.
It was initially due to hit screens on December 1 but filmmakers pushed back the release because of the controversy.
Despite the threats, industry watchers still expect “Padmaavat” to be a box office hit.