Padmavati Row: And the Winners Are Bhansali, Karni Sena, Mobocracy

All the publicity is done now and some politicians have earned significant brownie points.

3 min read
Protests against the release of <i>Padmavati.</i>

We will keep hearing the ‘all is well that ends well’ chorus now. Padmavati is going to be released soon, and is likely to break all records at the box office. It is immaterial that there is going to be a change of title or some modification in the much publicised ghoomar song. That there will be 50 odd cuts in the original version and multiple disclaimers so that no one is hurt.

All the publicity is done now. Some politicians have earned significant brownie points. The Karni Sena is now a rising star, soon to offer its services to potential suitors. Its chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi is going to be a new star in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Rajasthan. Finally, after a string of electoral reverses and series of party hopping, he is going to get his due. He can at least hope so.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali can expect record opening week collections. After all, Padmavati or Padmavat is not just a film now. It is a piece of history, a symbol of faith and a document of famed Rajputana pride. Acting, direction, editing, cinematography and all sundry things? Who cares? People will watch it as a piece of glorious Indian (or Hindu) tradition. Cannot afford to miss.

The Karni Sena chief spearheading a protest.&nbsp;
The Karni Sena chief spearheading a protest. 
(Photo: Ankita/The Quint)

Governments Giving In to Mobocracy Was a Shocker

But can we say all is well now that the film is going to be released? Something has happened in the last few months that should disturb us. That something is the growing ascendance of mobocracy.

Somebody, somewhere said our tradition has been defamed and others blindly followed. And others included respectable heads of many state governments. Without knowing what the issue is, what the credentials of mischief mongers are, and what the consequences are going to be. Wah! How responsive our governments have become!

There was no discussion on whether Padmavati was real or a myth. We were forced to believe that she was real, she was extraordinary and that she committed jauhar (self-immolation) along with thousand others to protect rajput honour. Assuming that the extraordinary queen Padmavati with extraordinary qualities suitable for her times did exist, can we afford to extoll jauhar now? And can we do away with the distinction between faith and history?

The Distinction Between History and Faith Blurred

What was not discussed all through was the boundary of creative freedom. It was assumed that since the issue was one of faith, certain people had the right to chop off noses or whatever they wished to. It was like, “I have the gun, will issue myself a license and have the infinite right to choose my prey. Rule of law be damned.”

If all of us begin to follow the logic in the name of faith, there is going to be chaos. But in the frenzy that the Padmavati debate was, nobody cared.

Deepika Padukone in the film <i>Padmavati. </i>
Deepika Padukone in the film Padmavati.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@RanveerOfficial)
All through the chaotic period that we have seen in the last few months, we wondered why were they doing what they were doing. We will perhaps never get to know who connived with whom. But we now have some understanding of who the beneficiaries are going to be.

A strong fillip to mobocracy is a just an unintended (or intended) consequence. For the people who have grown up with a heavy dose of the principle of supremacy of rule, can they say — all is well?

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