The controversy over Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon and Sanjay Dutt starrer Panipat, released on Friday, 6 December, is snowballing to a law-and-order crisis in Rajasthan. The Jat community in the State has objected to a scene in the film, after which the demand to ban the film has reached a crescendo. Local people are burning effigies of director Ashutosh Gowariker and theatres in Jaipur and some other places have also been ransacked.
In the virtual world, #BoycottPanipat is trending on micro-blogging site Twitter. Users are registering their protest against certain scenes shown in the film that project Raja Surajmal in poor light. People are expressing displeasure over the content of the film while there are others who say the films of Ashutosh do not deserve this attention.
Earlier, Rajasthan Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh had demanded a ban on the film. He tweeted in the morning, “I am leaving Jaipur for Bharatpur. I will join you in protest in Bharatpur at 1 PM.”
Singh wrote in another tweet, “It is very sad that the portrayal of a great man like Maharaja Surajmal, the Jat of Bharatpur, has been wrongly portrayed in Panipat that has tampered with historical facts.”
Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje Scindia has criticised the film, too. She tweeted, “Self-respecting, sincere and king of hearts, Emperor Maharaja Surajmal’s incorrect portrayal by the filmmaker in Panipat is condemnable.”
Panipat: The issue with the film
The Jats of Bharatpur in Rajasthan, in particular, have reservations about the film. They feel that Maharaja Surajmal has been misrepresented in the film. They say that in Panipat, the great Maratha warrior Sadashivrao Bhau (the role played by Arjun Kapoor) asks Maharaja Surajmal for help against the Afghans but Surajmal wants something in return. When his demand is not met, Surajmal refuses to support Sadashiva in the war. According to the protesters, Surajmal was portrayed as a greedy ruler in the film, which is not a fact.
Many are demonstrating also against the portrayal of the local people, heard in the film speaking Rajasthani and Haryanvi while they have been speaking Braj Bhasha for centuries.
Actor Randeep Hooda, who is a Jat, wrote on Twitter, “It is not necessary to glorify a community to belittle the other. This mostly leads to the wrong effect. I look forward to more maturity in future.” Further, he advised the people that their ancestors were too great to be demeaned by a tool of entertainment.
The objection raised by Hooda is remarkable, as members of the film trade normally do not break ranks with their professional fraternity over the political aspects of movies made by Bollywood.
This is not the first time Gowariker has been accused of fiddling with history. The entire Rajput community had risen in protest against his Jodhaa Akbar, his film released in 2008, which perpetuated the Bollywood fiction that Mughal Emperor Akbar had a Rajput wife called Jodhabai (whose son, as shown in K Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam, was Salim aka Jahangir, the successor of Akbar to the throne). No historian testified they knew of such a Rajput queen.
But then, Gowariker can always complain when he made Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, which was very close to the historical facts pertaining to the Chittagong rebellion led by Master Surya Sen, it hardly made an impact.
Panipat, the movie, was released the same day as Karthik Aryan, Bhumi Pednekar and Ananya Pandey starrer Pati Patni Aur Woh, which is doing well at the box office.