25 January, 2018 – Padmaavaat movie is scheduled to be released in India despite protests

While freedom of expression is guaranteed by the constitution, there has recently been an increasing trend towards censorship of books and films perceived as tarnishing Hindu/caste pride with traditional, ultra-conservative groups coming centre-stage.

After several months of protests and debates, Padmaavaat, a cinematographic free adaptation of a 16th century epic poem, portraying the romance of the eponymous Rajput princess from Rajasthan finally received (after a number of cuts) the certification from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), thus overruling the ban that had been imposed in several States (Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana – all ruled by the BJP) and is to be released nationally on 25 January.

The film was caught in a political storm that spiralled across several States with fringe groups such as the Karni Sena (a Hindu right-wing group defending specific caste interests, namely that of Rajputs – a warrior caste) resorting to vandalism in protest against what they denounced as a distortion of historical facts and an insult to their caste.

In further escalation of tensions, Senior advocate Harish Salve who represented the producer in the Supreme Court against the ban and argued that States have no power to prevent the screening of a film which has received the CBFC assent, reportedly received threats from anonymous sources.

Ahead of State assembly elections in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh end of 2018, one can foresee a step up of activities of these groups to mobilise voters along caste lines. [Add-on: for 2018 Assembly election’s results and our brief analysis of this matter see http://www.backgroundscreeninginrussia.com/2019/01/06/378/]

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Shri A. Gitesh Sarma