India’s Supreme Court rejects last-ditch effort to ban Bollywood film
Protestors say the film Padmaavat falsely depicts a romance between 14th century Hindu queen Padmavati and Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji
India’s top court Tuesday rejected a final bid by two states to ban a Bollywood film about a mythical Hindu queen which sparked violent protests by radical groups.
Threats by Hindu fringe groups against Padmaavat, set to be released on Thursday, have forced police to step up security around cinemas intending to show the film.
The Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh state governments asked the country’s Supreme Court to retract an earlier ruling stopping states from banning the film.
“We do not find any merit in the applications,” the court said on Tuesday.
“What is implicit in your argument is that you are incapable of maintaining law and order in your state,” Supreme Court judge A.M. Khanwilkar told lawyers for the state governments at the hearing.
“You first implement our order and then if there is any violence then we can examine it on case to case basis.”
The two states were among four that wanted to stop the film being shown because of the threat of disturbances. Radical groups have blocked roads, and burned buses and toll booths in recent days in protests against it.
Protesters claim the film falsely depicts a romance between 14th century Hindu queen Padmavati and Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji. The producers deny this and insist the film portrays her respectfully.
The Supreme Court last Thursday overturned a ban on the release of the film imposed by Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and other states saying it violated creative freedoms.
A caste based group, the Rajput Karni Sena, has threatened to attack cinemas showing the film.
In January last year members attacked the director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and vandalised the set during filming in Rajasthan.
The leader of the group also offered 50 million rupees (US$769,000) to anyone who “beheaded” lead actress Deepika Padukone or director Bhansali.
Protesters attacked another set near Mumbai in March, burning costumes and other props.
The film stars Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh, the husband of Padmavati, and Ranveer Singh as Khilji who leads an invasion to try to capture the queen.
Protesters maintain it distorts history, even though experts say the queen is a mythical character.
Earlier this month the film censor board cleared Padmaavat for release subject to five changes.