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The man who led the attack on Sanjay Leela Bhansali

January 30, 2017 16:05 IST

'340 films have been shot in Rajasthan in the last 50 years.'
'The Rajput community has never opposed any film except for Jodhaa-Akbar and Padmavati.'
'Rajasthan is known for welcoming guests, but why did these two films get into trouble?'
'They got into trouble because these two filmmakers wanted to create a controversy.'

IMAGE: A video grab of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali being attacked on the sets of his film, Padmavati.

Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali was assaulted on January 27 by activists of the Rajput Karni Sena -- a Rajput community group -- while he was shooting his film Padmavati at the Jaigarh fort in Jaipur.

Vijendra Singh Kalyanwat, spokesperson for the Rajput Karni Sena, tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf why his organisation opposes the film and what prompted the attack on Bhansali and the vandalisation of the movie set.

What happened on Friday?

We wrote many letters to Bhansali's office and expressed our opposition to the film.

We wrote that history should not be distorted.

We also wrote to the information and broadcasting ministry.

On Friday, when we went to meet Bhansali at Jaigarh fort, his guards fired in the air.

After the firing there was a scuffle.

This 'firing' is only being proclaimed by your Sena. No one from Bhansali's team has confirmed the incident.

There were thousands of people there. Ask anyone about this firing.

Bhansali's bodyguards fired four rounds, following which the situation got out of hand.

Since you went to speak to him, his bodyguards would not have fired in the air without provocation. Why would they fire in the air?

Nobody knew what would happen when we went there.

The firing incident led to a fracas.

We went to meet Bhansali because we wanted to tell him that he should highlight the martyrdom of Rani Padmini in his film.

Rani Padmini has no (romantic) link with Alauddin Khilji.

How do you know what is in Bhansali's script? Why are you assuming things?

The day after the incident, Bhansali said it was fortunate that Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh weren't on the sets.

Now, you tell me, how can Ranveer and Deepika shoot for this film together?

Alauddin Khilji (whose role is being portrayed by Ranveer Singh) must shoot at another place and Rani Padmini (being played by Deepika Padukone) should shoot at a different place.

How can they shoot together?

When we asked him this question, he did not give us a reply.

What is Bhansali's motive?

But...

We believe in ahimsa, but if someone does not listen to us, violence becomes necessary.

The newspaper Rajasthan Patrika carried a report that there was a dream sequence in the film, which shows Deepika meeting Ranveer Singh.

Now Rani Padmini is not an ordinary woman. She is like a devi in Rajasthan.

And you cannot show this devi meeting a terrorist like Alauddin Khilji even in his dreams.

Rajputs will never tolerate this.

If Bhansali distorts history and shoots the film in Mumbai, we will go there and destroy his sets like we did in Jaipur.

Now you are making these threats on record.

We will do whatever we can.

We will not tolerate distorted history.

We have written our history with our blood.

Bhansali cannot play with our history.

But historians say Alauddin Khilji never met Rani Padmini.
They say Malik Muhammad Jaysi wrote the poem Padmavat, which has got nothing to do with Alauddin and Rani Padmini. He wrote it 200 years later.

Lord Ram's history was written after so many years.

Now today if some filmmaker writes that Sita was not kidnapped by Ravan, but she ran away with him because she fell in love with him, will anyone tolerate this?

Filmmakers are distorting history and want future generations to believe in a different history, which is not factual.

We will not allow this to happen.

Till the 1990s, Rajputs were shown as villains in films. They were always goondas for the Hindi film industry.

We kept quiet, but afterwards our organisation started opposing such films.

Take Jodhaa Akbar. There was no queen like Jodhaa who married Akbar.

Therefore, we opposed it.

This is exactly what I am saying.
Historians say Rani Padmini never attained martyrdom because Alauddin Khilji never even saw her, forget meeting her.

Which history are you reading?

Do you also deny that Lord Ram existed, Ravan ever existed, Lord Hanuman existed?

Refuse everything. Who has gone back to check on history?

But I am not the one saying it, noted historian Irfan Habib says so.

The Rajput Samaj has got their whole history recorded.

If you want, we will provide all the details. We will give it to Bhansali too, if he wants.

We will give them the guidelines and let them make a film on those lines.

But what about freedom of art, freedom of creativity?

We believe in it.

Make films on Rana Pratap or Prithviraj Chauhan.

There are thousands of such martyrs in the Rajput community.

Make films on their lives and no one will saying anything; show their bravery to the world.

But you cannot dictate storylines to filmmakers. Bhansali is making the film based on Malik Jayasi's Padmavat.

The Rajput Samaj is tolerant.

If Bhansali has got guts, let him go to Germany and make a film on Hitler.

Why is he not making a film on Aurangzeb's atrocities?

But you don't know the script of his movie. How can you assume it shows romance between Alauddin Khilji and Rani Padmini?

Everyone is intelligent today.

In real life, Ranveer and Deepika can have an affair, and we have no problem with that.

From whatever we read in the media, we found out that Ranveer wanted to do an intimate scene with Deepika in this film.

You also know that in this film only Raja Ratan Singh (played by Shahid Kapoor) can do intimate scenes with Rani Padmini.

Since Bhansali wanted to distort history, he made Ranveer Singh into Khilji and Deepika into Padmini.

IMAGE: Vijendra Singh Kalyanwat, spokesperson, Rajput Karni Sena.

What did Bhansali tell you when you met him?

He sent his team and told us that he will discuss with them and make changes in the script.

He agreed to change the script and said he will not play with our emotions.

So, when his team said they will change the script, you should have left silently.

They said this after the fight.

I have followers in Mumbai too. They tried to meet Bhansali many times, but could not do so.

We have sent thousands of letters to his office stating that we will not tolerate any distortion of history in his films.

By committing violent acts, don't you think you are giving a bad name to the Rajput community?
Actor Sushant Singh Rajput says he has temporarily withdrawn the 'Rajput' from his Twitter account.

I want to tell Sushant Singh Rajput that he should change his name to Aurangzeb, I have no problems.

Let filmmaker Anurag Kashyap too change his name to Mohammed Tughlaq, we have no problems.

Which history are you reading? Do you also deny that Lord Ram existed, Ravan ever existed, Lord Hanuman existed?

Don't you feel violence is wrong? It affects Rajasthan tourism.

There is history in Rajasthan and therefore filmmakers come to Rajasthan.

If there was no history in Rajasthan, no one would have come here.

And if you want to distort that same history, it does not make any sense for us to live here.

We believe in ahimsa, but if someone does not listen to us, violence becomes necessary.

Don't you think you are running an intolerant brigade?

Note my point. Why did Bhansali not file an FIR against us?

He did not do so because his team was involved in the firing.

Moreover, he had no permission from the Rajasthan government to shoot the film.

In the future, how will anyone make a film if everyone needs permission from organisations like yours?

To my knowledge, 340 films have been shot in Rajasthan in the last 50 years. This includes Hollywood films.

The Rajput community has never opposed any film except for two -- Jodhaa-Akbar and Padmavati.

Rajasthan is known for welcoming guests, but why did these two films get into trouble?

They got into trouble because these two filmmakers wanted to create a controversy.

What is the history of Rani Padmini, according to you?

I am not a historian. I will say Rani Padmini is a devi of the Rajput community.

We respect her and there is a johar mela that we host every year in her name.

It is a big event, which even former prime ministers of India have attended.

She sacrificed her life for future generations, therefore if someone questions her integrity and dignity, people like us will revolt.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf / Rediff.com