The controversy surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat has barely settled, and a Brahmin outfit in Rajasthan has threatened to disrupt shooting of Kangana Ranaut-starrer Manikarnika, claiming it has an “indecent portrayal” of Rani Laxmibai, a Brahmin.
“The movie’s shooting has been going on in Rajasthan for some time and we have come to know that there are some scenes, including a song, that show her as having a love affair with an Englishman,” said Suresh Misra, founder president of Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha (SBM).
“We have learnt that some portions for the movie have been picked up from Rani, a book by (London-based author) Jaishree Misra. Following objections, the book was banned by Uttar Pradesh government then. So our concern is, why are filmmakers proceeding with a movie with content from a banned book,” said Misra, 46, who is also a secretary with the state Congress unit. He said if their concerns are not addressed, “Brahmin Mahasabha will not let the movie be shot here and will disrupt its shooting.”
The book, a historical fiction, had mentioned a romantic relationship between Rani Lakshmibai and British officer Robert Ellis. It was banned in Uttar Pradesh in February 2008 by the then Mayawati-led government.
“We had sent a letter to the producers on January 9. However, after almost a month, there has been no response,” Misra said.
“Jhansi ki Maharani Laxmi Bai was a Brahmin and therefore our organisation and community has certain queries as it is related with Brahmin sentiments & emotions,” reads the purported letter to Manikarnika producer Kamal Jain.
The letter inquires about “background and profile” of writers and profile of historians they may have consulted, details of song(s) in the movie and the context in which they are being filmed.
The SMB Monday announced that since they have not received a reply, they are escalating their protest.
They plan to meet Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria Tuesday and ask the state government “to take an affidavit from the director and producers of the movie that there is nothing objectionable in it, and that the story is shared with the state government”. “Else, it may meet the same fate as Padmaavat,” Misra said.
In November last year, SBM supported the campaign by Rajput outfits against Padmaavat. Now, the Rajput outfits have decided to back the Brahmin organisation.
Shri Rajput Karni Sena’s national president Mahipal Makrana said, “If he (Misra) has objected to the movie, we stand with him. Rani Laxmibai was their pride and is our pride too.”
While producer Kamal Jain did not comment on the issue, a person closely associated with the movie said they are not consulting Jaishree Misra’s book and that there is “nothing objectionable” in the movie. “No letter was received and if anybody comes to us, we will act accordingly. We are going ahead with the actual history on Rani. Good thing about Rani Laxmibai is that everything about her is fact.”