The issue was a dream sequence where Khilji is shown romancing Padmavati, as alleged by Karni Sena, the self-styled upholder of Rajput honour.
It had been lying low for months, until the filmmakers released a trailer with the Ghoomar dance, following which the Karni Sena revived their protests. Today, not only the Karni Sena but also others, including non-Rajputs, have raised objection to Padmavati dancing in a darbar which, they say, is an affront to Rajput culture as also to Padmavati who has been accorded the stature of deity in many homes across Rajasthan, irrespective of caste.
Jaipur Maharani Padmini Devi and her daughter, BJP MLA Diya Kumari, have taken a stand to not let the movie release in Rajasthan unless it is screened before a select audience and is without distortion.
Rukshmani Kumari, also a royal, is against violent protests and says the movie could be released by deleting objectionable scenes.
With such stiff opposition to the film's release, let's see five reasons why not only Rajputs but also other castes in Rajasthan are against any misrepresentation of Padmavati's character:
- Goddess Padmavati: Padmavati is revered as a deity, just as Meera Bai - another Rajput princess who too married into the royal house of Chittorgarh more than 300 years later. While it could be accepted that Meera sang and danced before the idol of her beloved Krishna out of devotion, Maharanis were never known to perform the Ghoomar in Darbar as Bhansali has shown Padmavati. If at all they indulged in any such entertainment, it was confined to the Raniwas where even male instrumentalists were not allowed to enter and would play sitting on the stairs outside.
- A brave and pious heroine: Padmavati represents a queen who chose to immolate herself along with other womenfolk wearing saffron instead of falling into the hands of an invader, Alauddin Khilji. This act, described as "johar", has a socio-religious significance and a fair is held in Chittorgarh every year to commemorate it. Padmini symbolises many women considered brave and pious.
- Majority report: Many Rajput royals are in some way or the other related to the royals of Chittorgarh who are the most respected among the Rajput clan and were the only ones bestowed upon the title of "Maharana". So their concerns about their ancestors being portrayed in poor light is understandable.
- No lust theory: A large section of Rajputs have always questioned the story in Jayasi's poem Padmavat - that Khilji attacked Chittorgarh because of his lust for Rani Padmini. On the other hand, the right-wing Hindus have always enjoyed this version as it depicts Khilji unfavourably. Rajputs strongly refute any likelihood of Padmini's husband, Rana Ratan Singh agreeing to show Khilji his wife's reflection given the kind of purdah that was maintained for women and guarded zealously by men.
- Political foothold: Rajputs in Rajasthan today have been feeling sidelined ever since their political and social rivals, the Jats, got OBC reservation to one-up them in jobs, and Panchayati Raj and local bodies polls. They feel chief minister Vasundhara Raje, who was married into Jat royalty and has a son, panders to Jats far more than Rajputs.
So, some Rajputs have again got a ready platform to build their leadership by taking a stand against any distortion of their beliefs in Bhansali's Padmavati.