A Hindu nationalist politician has put a bounty on the heads of a Bollywood actress and the director of her latest, yet-to-be released film.
Suraj Pal Amu, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, has reportedly offered 100 million rupees ($1.5 million) to anyone who beheads lead actress Deepika Padukone and the director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, of the unreleased film, titled Padmavati.
The film is rumoured to depict a relationship between a Hindu queen and a Muslim ruler.
The film’s producers have now postponed the release of the film, which was set to be shown in movie theatres on 1st December – and Amu was reported to have said the film would ‘not be allowed to be released at all’, reports TIME.
Padmavati is based on a 16th century poem, titled Padmavat, in which a ‘brave and beautiful Rajput queen chose to kill herself rather than be captured by the Muslim sultan of Delhi, Allaudin Khilji’.
Hindustan ke saare cinema halls mein swachhta abhiyan chalaenge, ek-ek screen ko aag lagane ki takat rakhta hai Kshatriya samaj aur iss desh ka naujawan: Suraj Pal Amu, BJP #Padmavati pic.twitter.com/cKmQXKzJwP
— ANI (@ANI) November 21, 2017
Padmavati has been in trouble already, with fringe groups attacking the film’s set, threatening to burn down theatres showing it and Bhansali was attacked in January.
Most of the anger appears to stem from allegations Bhansali filmed a romantic dream sequence between the protagonists, which Bhansali has denied.
Earlier this month, the head of the Rajput Karni Sena, in Rajasthan, said the lead actress should ‘have her nose cut’ — which is a symbol of public humiliation — for being part of the film allegedly ‘insulting the famed queen’.
Sanjay Ahuja, a senior functionary, said Amu has been asked to ‘give an explanation in a week or face disciplinary action’.
Amu said he’d reply ‘patiently’, but ‘is ready to resign’ from the BJP if the party asks him to do so.
He told The Indian Express he respected Padukone for ‘being a daughter of Hindustan and said he wouldn’t speak against any woman as they were ‘fighting for the honour of women’, before adding:
Our struggle will continue until Padmavati is banned.
Claiming his remarks were made in a ‘personal’ capacity, he said:
The PM and Home Minister should speak on this subject because there is a hue and cry over this issue in the entire country.
On Sunday, Viacom 18, the studio behind the film, sent a statement out over social media to say the film is an ‘eloquent portrayal of a tale that will fill every Indian with pride’ and showcase the country’s ‘story-telling prowess across the globe’.
They also said they ‘have faith’ they’ll ‘soon obtain the requisite clearances to release the film’ and would issue a release date in ‘due course’.
Read the full statement here:
— Viacom18 (@viacom18) November 19, 2017
I am in shock at reading what my dear friend is going through but in absolute awe of her strength and courage. Deepika you are one of the strongest women I know. https://t.co/wrEaO9WZA0
— Ruby Rose (@RubyRose) November 18, 2017
Australian actress Ruby Rose shared a message of support for her ‘dear friend’ Deepika writing:
I am in shock at reading what my dear friend is going through but in absolute awe of her strength and courage. Deepika you are one of the strongest women I know.