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Padmavati Controversy: Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar Blame Government

Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar extend their support to Padmavati, blame the government for allowing the controversy. 

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India
3 min read
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Veteran actor Shabana Azmi and renowned lyricist Javed Akhtar believe that it is the government’s incapacity to maintain law and order which has led to the Padmavati controversy becoming as problematic as it currently is.

In an interview with Rajdeep Sardesai, the duo stated that if the government had been upholding its promise to eradicate criminal elements from the different states of the country, they wouldn’t allow a Karni Sena or any other party placing a bounty on the head of certain members of the cast, or threatening to chop off Deepika Padukone’s nose, and maybe even take some strict action against the ones making these threats.

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Azmi had earlier stated that as a show of solidarity towards Padmavati, the film industry should boycott the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) if the government did not guarantee the safety of the makers of Padmavati and ensure its release.

To me, this is a very sorry state of affairs. There are people openly threatening to chop off Deepika Padukone’s nose...they are placing a Rs 5 crore bounty on her head. If this is not criminal, what is? What is the government doing about it?
Shabana Azmi told Rajdeep Sardesai in an interview aired on India Today

She went on to add that that the film industry was everybody’s ‘favourite sitting duck’.

The film industry needs to stand up and say we refuse to be puppets in this game, an electoral game of divisive politics and polarisation...the only thing we can do is boycott the IFFI, which got its status only because the film industry has gotten it such acclaim. 
Shabana Azmi
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Her plea to the film industry, as she put is, is that it is a situation of now or never. If they didn’t take a stand now, things would only get worse.

Agreeing with her, Javed Akhtar said that even if the filmmakers and supporters of the film accept that the religious and cultural sentiments of the Rajput community were hurt, there is no excuse for the offended to make death threats and offer bounties. More importantly, to him, the people from the ruling party, whose responsibility it is to maintain law and order and protect those being threatened, haven’t lifted a single finger.

Chief Minister after Chief Minister are saying please delay the film, because we can’t handle the law and order. These are the same people who are saying they will be eradicating terrorism from the country.
Javed Akhtar
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But the problem runs even deeper, says Shabana Azmi. To her, a political charade was taking place, one that had less to do with ‘Rajput sentiment’ and more with the upcoming Gujarat polls.

To her, it seems a bit too contrived that the CBFC has sent the film back because the ‘formalities’ haven’t been completed. Especially since both Bhansali and Viacom 18 have produced their fair share of films through the years. So a sudden problem in document verification, not to mention one that will delay the release of the film to a time long enough for the BJP to win over more Gujarat votes as a result, seems like a well-strategised plan.

In terms of the controversy surrounding the song ‘Ghoomar’, where the Karni Sena and other right-wing groups have called it a slander on their history as Rani Padmini is seen dancing as a ‘courtesan’, Javed Akhtar spoke about the hypocrisy of the masses that themselves enjoy the music and dance which is embedded deep within the Indian culture.

Since when have Indians started looking down on singers and dancers? This is the privilege of Saudi Arabia, not us. 
Javed Akhtar

In conclusion, both Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar stated that despite the reservations that certain groups may have with the film’s representation of Rani Padmini, the public declarations of their intent to harm those who worked on this film needs to be checked by the respective government forces.

To them, this was a problem of the faulty law and order, where the government has been spending more time placating the parties opposing the movie, and making the death threats, instead of dealing with them as they would with other criminals.

And finally, they also call for the film industry to stand in solidarity with the makers of Padmavati, be it by boycotting the IFFI or any other way they saw fit. As Azmi repeated through the course of the interview, if no action took place now, things would only get worse.

Also Read: So, Did Rani Padmavati Really Exist?

Based on the interview conducted by Rajdeep Sardesai on India Today.

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