That Shri Rajput Karni Sena is a fringe outfit desperate for 15 minutes of spotlight and got more than that is now a universal fact. The pertinent question is, whether this time around, it has bitten more than it can chew.
A hapless director, hundreds of crew members with their livelihoods at stake, sets worth crores, dates and side businesses launched owing to big-budget shoots at outdoor locations — if you can hold all of that at ransom with the state administration looking the other way, imagine the bargain you can strike.
Perhaps the current impasse has thrown up a situation that is a natural consequence of the greed to extract a bigger pound of flesh.
What happens when talks of a settlement formula begin to do the rounds? If a quick solution is considered not expedient, rest assured, all hell can break loose — as National Award-winning director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has witnessed in the making of Padmavati.
|Padmavati stars Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. Indiatoday.in|
At the receiving end of a vicious attack he won’t forget, Bhansali made a pained exit from the Pink City.
Discussions between the director's team and Karni Sena ensued and the deliberations went on for hours on end with the hooligans who seem to have latched on to a new-found purpose.
Discussions about trying to (once again) save their honour, which seemingly was never in danger. What could the discussions have been about when the supposed dream sequence involving intimate scenes between Allauddin Khilji and the much-revered Rani Padmini was never a part of the script?
How can you ask someone to can a sequence that was not going to be shot?
At the press conference where the two sides came together, I witnessed that Bhansali Productions painstakingly put forth: “This is to specifically clarify that there is no romantic dream sequence or any objectionable/romantic scene between Rani Padmavati and Allauddin Khilji.”
But when there are stakes involved, one generally gives into "successful discussions".
Why? How else would Karni Sena satiate the collective thirst of eager followers who have believed every word they have been told about honour and valour, about courage and pride, about history and tradition, about the women and their sacrifices, but who have not been taught to understand how to chaff truth from sensation?
These followers have not learnt to deal with issues rationally, to make a point emphatically without causing physical harm, to believe in the strength of your argument and not in the demonstrable power of your sheer numbers — to hold people accountable through means that do not bring disrepute.
The clarification by Bhansali Productions was lost in the din.
Karni Sena satraps had their own wish list that ranged from "not to have any intimate scenes in the film even in dream (notwithstanding the clarification that there were none between Padmavati and Allauddin Khilji), not to distort with any historical facts of the episode of Rana Rawal Ratan Singh Padmani and Alloudin Khalizi".
When things began to look cosy, the murmurs of discontent rose. And, as if waiting for the cue, the Rajput men present at the discussions refused to accept the peace pact.
Now an entirely new wish list emerged — which ranged from dropping the name "Padmavati" to scrapping the movie altogether!
A few complained that if the movie had to be made, why not name it Rana Ratan Singh? How dare you think of naming a movie after the revered Padmini or Padmavati?
The demand for a special screening of the movie before followed. They claimed it was done before the release of Jodhaa Akbar and Veer.
If the directors of those films succumbed to our pressure, what is the problem with you, they may well have asked Bhansali.
So the director's team did as anyone forced to accede to demands against their will would wish to. They left the discussion table.
From where did this demand to drop "Padmavati" emerge and what was the rationale behind it? Was the decision taken at the time a handful of threatening voices felt that the solution being worked out with Bhansali's team wasn't getting them much attention?
When answers were sought from the Karni Sena to all these questions, the brave "Rajput" men ended the press conference in haste.
Perhaps, it had dawned on them that they had gone too far.
Soon after, it was conveyed to the press that the demand for the name change was withdrawn and that for a special screening before the release was no longer a demand, but a suggestion — and that the other demands stay.
The tamasha, however, will continue for a few more days.