‘Panipat’ screening suspended at Indian theaters following protests

Published: 11 Dec 2019   

Online Desk

Following widespread protests in India's western state of Rajasthan and other parts, cinema halls have suspended the screening of the Bollywood film ‘Panipat’, officials said Wednesday.


"The battle has just started. We have to be non-violent but lawfully clever to get this film banned," said Rajasthan tourism minister Vishvendra Singh, who is calling for a boycott of the film along with other lawmakers, reports Xinhua.


Panipat is an 18th-century war film in the northern Indian city of Panipat between the Maratha army and the Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali. The Bharatpur Jat emperor Maharaja Suraj Mal has allegedly been depicted as a greedy ruler.


The minister has also requested Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot to ban the film all over India.


The Jat community living in Rajasthan said the director Ashutosh Gowariker has "distorted" historical facts and pictured their legendary ruler Maharaja Suraj Mal in a bad light.


Reports said amid growing protests and vandalism, the cinema halls across Rajasthan have suspended the screenings of the film on Tuesday.


"His (Maharaja Suraj Mal) whole role is distorted in the movie," Rajaram Meel, president of Rajasthan Jat Mahasabha, a body of Jat community told media after watching the film. "Maharaja's role is badly written in the movie and he is shown in a bad light."


The Jat community demands the role of their king from the movie be removed if filmmakers want to continue playing the film in the state.


The statue of the film director have been burnt and vandalized at several places in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. Similar reports are pouring in from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, where protests against the film have triggered.


Cinema owners said they have suspended the shows and were waiting for an amicable resolution between the protesters and filmmakers.


"We have decided to stop the screening of the film in our theater keeping in view the safety of our customers," said a cinema exhibitor at Jaipur, pleading anonymity. "We don't want any untoward incident to take place in our cinema hall. Let there be some resolution between the two parties, later on, we can screen the film."


Rajasthan chief minister has asked the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to intervene and take cognisance of the resentment of the people over the distorted portrayal of the emperor in the movie.


"If there is a humiliation of leaders from any caste or sect, it is quite natural that his community and people feel hurt. Everyone respects art and culture but if sometimes you commit a mistake, you should redress it soon to avoid there should not be an exasperation," said the chief minister.


The film was released across India last Friday. It stars Arjun Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt and Kriti Sanon as main characters.

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