Release of both movies elicit protests in mostly BJP ruled states, though for different reasons; Bajirao shows cancelled in Pune .
New Delhi : The release of Shah Rukh Khan’s “Dilwale” and Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone starrer “Bajirao Mastani” on Friday were greeted with protests from right wing outfits in various cities in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, albeit for different reasons. A Pune multiplex cancelled five scheduled shows of “Bajirao Mastani” following the vociferous protests by BJP workers who raised slogans against the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial. They said the movie, about Maratha warrior Peshwa Bajirao I (Ranveer) and his two wives — Mastani (Deepika), a Muslim, and Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra), has “distorted the historical facts of the Peshwa era”. “The filmmakers have portrayed Bajirao in an insulting manner. The people of Maharashtra virtually worship the Peshwas, so we cannot tolerate what is being depicted in this film,” BJP’s Pune city vice president Jayant Bhave told IANS.
Bhave pointed out that Bajirao had helped spread Chhatrapati Shivaji’s footprint in other parts of India and spent most of his time in the battlefield, even eating his food on horseback during battles. “He never had the time to fiddle with his hair locks (choti) and dance in public as shown in the film… Similarly, the depiction of his wife Kashibai portrayed by actress Priyanka Chopra is also in poor taste as royalty never behaved in such fashion those days,” Bhave added. The protest against `Dilwale’ was a spillover of the anger over Shah Rukh’s recent remarks on “religious intolerance and led to a demand for boycott of his movie in Mumbai, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Jabalpur, Delhi and Patna. At a theatre in Patna, the activists burnt an effigy of the “Chennai Express” star and threatened to take their protest to different places in the coming days. In Mumbai, a handful of activists of the Hindu Sena were detained after they tried to storm into a mall in Dadar and threatened to stall the shows. In Gujarat, protests were witnessed in Ahmedabad, Surat and Mehasana.
The Bombay High Court, however, declined to stay the two releases. The protests notwithstanding, both movies were a big draw on their opening day. Most critics have given thumbs up to the grandeur of “Bajirao Mastani”, while “Dilwale” has won people’s heart with its commercial ingredients. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh called “Bajirao Mastani” “a cinematic gem that you cannot miss”, while film critic Amod Mehra compared it to Indian epic “Mughal-E-Azam”. Mehra tweeted: “It took Indian cinema 55 years to produce another magnum opus of the caliber of ‘Mughal-E-Azam’. Take a bow Sanjay Leela Bhansali.” But trade expert Komal Nahta tweeted that the opening day response of “Dilwale” was more overwhelming than that of “Bajirao Mastani”. The release of the films on the same day has resulted in a division of screens. It is a clash in more ways than one. The NCP condemned the protests against ‘Bajirao Mastani’, saying if the BJP has any reservations about the content of the film it should have approached the Censor Board.