Kangana Ranaut vs Karni Sena: Is 'Manikarnika' turning into another 'Padmaavat'?
That was a rhetorical question. Yes, it is.
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January 2018 saw politics and cinema fuse together in the most uncouth manner — there were frenzied talks of bloodshed, decapitation threats, even a self-immolation promise thrown into the fiery mix, just to stop a period film from hitting the theatres.
Come January 2019, and the rhetoric is repeated.
Deepika Padukone’s Padmaavat and Kangana Ranaut’s Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi are similar in more ways than one — if the grandeur and scale at which both were shot, and the simple fact that both draw from nationalism-evoking historic events which, more importantly, involve two strong women characters, weren’t enough, the Karni Sena angle sure is.
For the uninitiated, here’s what happened.
On Thursday, 17 January, reports of a protest against the release of Manikarnika did the rounds. It was alleged that the protest was led by the Maharashtra wing of the Karni Sena, who believe that the film depicts an illicit relationship between Rani Laxmibai and a British officer.
In addition, the group was also vehemently protesting against a portion of the film where the queen is shown dancing to a special number. It is against traditions, they said.
Roaring back: And Kangana just did what Dipika couldn't. (Source: Stills from Padmaavat and Manikarnika/YouTube screengrabs)
On Friday, however, Kangana did what Dipika just couldn’t. In a front-page interview to a leading daily, Kangana said, “If they (Karni Sena) don't stop, then they should know I am also a Rajput and I will destroy each one of them.”
And here’s where the discourse changed course.
Clearly, the Karni Sena is not used to being threatened in response to their threats. That could probably be attributed to the fact that they are not used to being taken seriously either. By anyone.
Actress #KanganaRanaut is determined to fight against the Shri #Rajput #KarniSena, who have threatened #protests if the film (#Manikarnika) is not screened for the outfit before theatrical #Release. The actress says if they don't stop #harassing her, she will "destroy them". pic.twitter.com/wFAdNauHow— IANS Tweets (@ians_india) January 18, 2019
When they threatened to burn down theatres before Padmaavat released, their bone of contention was an illicit relationship they presumed was being shown between Rani Padmini and Allauddin Khilji. We’ve watched Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus (in both 2D and 3D) — and there was nothing. Then they went off to critique Rani Padmini’s midriff-bearing sartorial choices in the song Ghoomar, which was corrected in CGI.
Yet, they continued to crib like the boy who never got to bat in the gully cricket match.
The film released. The audience queued up, just to see what all this fuss was about. Most were left disappointed.
But that’s another story.
In the case of Manikarnika too, they seemed to be going with the same plan — until Kangana threw them a curveball.
The Karni Sena national spokesperson, Dr Himanshu, told IANS that they were not even involved in the Thursday protests against Manikarnika, “We are not opposing Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi till we don't have anything substantial from the family, region or the community.”
But the president of the Maharashtra Karni Sena, Ajay Singh Sengar, probably failed to exchange notes with their national spokesperson. He charged back, saying, “If she continues to threaten the members of our outfit, we will not let her walk freely in Maharashtra and will burn her film sets.”
So if they do, then Kangana will ‘destroy’ them — either by riding a horse into their office in true Rani Laxmibai-style or by retelling that story of how she and Hrithik Roshan broke up. And if they don’t, then, well, the film will release like any other film.
So, yeah. The sky is overcast with empty threats. We’re expecting a heavy downpour of historical facts thrown at us from different sides.
But Friday looks sunny for Kangana Ranaut.