File photo of filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali with veteran actor Rekha at a party hosted by the former in Mumbai, in March 2016. (Press Trust of India)
Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has canceled the shooting of “Padmavati” in Jaipur, saying the assault on him and vandalism on the sets of his movie by a Rajput group that triggered outrage in the film industry was “uncalled for” and extremely damaging to the image of the beautiful city. – @siliconeer #siliconeer #Bollywood #SLB @SLB #SanjayLeelaBhansali #Padmavati @SanjayLeelaBhansali @Padmavati @DeepikaPadukone @RanveerSingh @ShahidKapoor #Padmavati #DeepikaPadukone #RanveerSingh #ShahidKapoor
“The shooting has been stopped by the filmmaker at Jaigarh Fort and they have vacated the place,” SHO Amer police station Narendra Kumar said.
A statement issued through Bhansali’s representative said keeping in mind the safety of the film’s crew, the director decided to stop the shooting post the “shocking” incident.
“Sanjay Leela Bhansali has shot two films in Jaipur and despite his love for Rajasthan, for the safety of his crew, we have decided to stop the shoot and leave the city post the shocking incident where miscreants damaged property and misbehaved with the crew on the shoot of ‘Padmavati’,” it said.
Bhansali was roughed up by members of the Rajput community group who also stopped the shooting by damaging the set at Jaigarh Fort, alleging that the director was “distorting facts” in the movie which is about Alauddin Khilji’s obsession with Rani Padmavati.
Refuting claims of the fringe group that the film will feature an intimate scene between Alauddin Khiji, played by Ranveer Singh, and Rani Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), Bhansali said there is no such sequence.
“We clarify that there is no dream sequence or any objectionable scene between Rani Padmavati and Allauddin Khilji. We have been carefully researching and making the film. In spite of this, the attack on the shoot and crew was uncalled for and was extremely damaging to the image of the beautiful city of Jaipur.”
Karni Sena reiterated its stand, Jan. 28, to oppose any distortion of historical facts and demanded a written assurance from the director while also blaming his security for the commotion, Jan. 27.
“I do not support any violence. The Karni Sena had gone there to oppose the shooting and talk to Bhansali. But he refused to meet and three bullets were fired in the air by his security men which led to provocation and commotion,” Lokendra Singh Kalvi, Karni Sena founder, said at a press conference.
He said they had communicated their objection six months prior to the shooting after they came to know about the dream sequence of Alauddin Khilji through Ranveer’s interview.
Besides Bhansali, the film’s three lead stars—Ranveer, Deepika and Shahid Kapoor—slammed the fringe outfit for the incident.
Deepika, who is in the titular role of Padmavati, tweeted, “In a state of shock!deeply saddened and disheartened by yesterday’s events!#Padmavati.”
The actress assured that the team behind the film is not distorting any historical facts and their aim is to bring on-screen the story of “courageous and powerful” Padmavati.
“As Padmavati I can assure you that there is absolutely no distortion of history.#Padmavati. Our only endeavour is & has always been to share with the world the story of this courageous & powerful woman in the purest form there is,” she wrote.
Ranveer too termed it an “unfortunate” incident.
“What’s happened is very unfortunate. We hope the people of Rajasthan will understand & empathize with our intentions & give us their support. As a team, we are making ‘Padmavati’ keeping in mind the sensitivities and emotions of the people of Rajasthan and the Rajput community.
“Sanjay Sir is one of the most accomplished & authentic filmmakers we have in India, & he wont ever do anything to hurt anyones feelings,” Ranveer tweeted.
Shahid, who is in the role of Raja Ratan Singh, condemned the assault on Bhansali, saying violence is “unacceptable.”
“Very very sad. Words do fall short and feel too little to express feelings. Violence is unacceptable. This incident has shocked me. We need to look deep within as a society, as a country, as a people. Where are we headed,” he wrote.
Terming the incident as “unacceptable,” Film & Television Producers Guild of India Ltd and many leading members of the film fraternity like Salim Khan, Shabana Azmi, Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Hansal Mehta, have urged the government to take strong punitive action against the group.
“The people those who attacked Sanjay Leela Bhansali called themselves Rajputs. The incident is a matter of shame to the noble community,” Salim tweeted.
“Film industry must stand as one and do whatever it takes to ensure that the reprehensible attack on SLB becomes a flashpoint for ‘goondagiri’ to stop,” Azmi tweeted.
Johar, who himself has been at the receiving end of fringe elements during the release of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, said he felt “appalled” at what happened with Bhansali.
“Having been through many instances of turmoil during a film shoot or release… I understand Sanjay’s emotions at this point. I stand by him.
“Thoughts of what has transpired with Sanjay Leela Bhansali today are just not leaving me. Feeling helpless and angry. This cannot be our future,” he wrote.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt wrote, “Why is I & B Ministry silent when #NationalAward Winning director #SLB is assaulted? Jr IB Mantri #RajyaVardhanSingh is from Jaipur!”
Kashyap said he was surprised that people seem to know the story even though the film is yet to be made.
“We living in the times where everyone who does not read or research knows more truth than those who have spent a lifetime doing it,” Kashyap said.
“What happened on Padmavati sets is appalling and heinous. Is this the state of the world,” Sonam tweeted.
Mehta said, “The political environment in our country is encouraging for fringe elements and attack on cultural freedom.”
Gowariker tweeted, “Shocking! Appalling!! Despairing!!! And still, we shall not stop making what we want to!! Sanjay stay strong! I am with you! #Padmavati.”
Meanwhile, VHP also criticized the filmmaker and said that no attempt to distort the history will be tolerated by the Hindu community.
“A filmmaker is free to depict a fiction but when it comes to historic facts, a huge responsibilities lies with him. Rani Padmavati created history and insult to her will not be tolerated,” Narpat Singh Shekhawat, a state VHP leader said.