Bollywood ‘Creating Religious Fuss’ for Big Hits?

After the rigmarole around movies like ‘Padmaavat’ and ‘Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi’, Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan starrer ‘Kedarnath’ too has found itself in the pool of controversy or you may call it a political controversy. While a senior BJP leader demanded a ban on “Kedarnath” alleging that the movie, which is set against the backdrop of a catastrophic deluge that hit the Himalayan shrine in 2013, hurts the sentiments of Hindus and promotes Love Jihad, Congress too objected to a kissing scene in the movie stating that violates the belief of the Hindus.

While a large part of the society is going with the trend and blaming the movie for hurting the religious belief, the other part beliefs such protests are unnecessary and the objectors are the one who craves to get into the limelight. With these, we are missing out on what might be the approach of the moviemakers? Can we rule out the possibility that all these are scripted and being used as a marketing tool for creating the much-needed buzz before the release? Yes, there are many who’ve raised this question too while posing a doubt whether creating controversy has become a new marketing tool!

Actor and Filmmaker Anant Mahadevan expressed, “These days it is difficult to believe anything at the face value as there is fake news goes going hand in hand along with the real news. So according to me, this Kedarnath controversy will just blow over as it always does in most of the cases. I suggest one shouldn’t take Hindi films seriously because there are more important issues occurring which are to be taken care of.”

Talking about a film being attacked or a film hurting sentiments of the audience, he said, “All these have become so common like a joke now! I feel that this kind of topics should be ignored and it will die naturally.”

On Saturday, Uttarakhand BJP’s media relations team member Ajendra Ajay wrote to Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairman Prasoon Joshi arguing that despite being picturising one of the worst human tragedies, Abhishek Kapoor directed ‘Kedarnath’ is all about making fun of and disrespecting the Hindu sentiments. Besides that, a kissing scene and the poster of the movie that read ‘Love is a Pilgrimage’ too received his criticism; as per Ajay, these are attacks on the religion and the place which is the holy epitome of the Hindus. He also accused the yet to release film for promoting Love Jihad as the love story develops around a Muslim porter and a Hindu pilgrim. And with a much-expected move, Producer Ronnie Screwvala and Director Abhishek Kapoor on Monday denied the presence of any offensive content in their upcoming release.

“People watch teasers and form an opinion. Let the film open up a bit, let them watch the film. Once they see it they’ll realise there’s nothing in it which is offensive. The film has lots of love and faith. I don’t think people will be disappointed,” Screwvala said.

“Kedarnath” features Sushant Singh Rajput and marks the debut of Sara Ali Khan. It is scheduled to be released on December 7.

Author Roxy Arora asserted, “It is often observed that the public choose to pick up on any controversial thing — many people without knowing the actual scenario, just jump on to the conclusions and start giving expert advice. I really don’t think that the filmmakers create such outrage deliberately as they also face many issues like their monetary loss, movie’s release date gets delayed, actors get trolled, and they get life threats which are not jokes! Even if they create controversy on purpose, if the film is not worth it, it will not work at the Box Office.”

Whatsoever, all these are no new to the Bollywood audience. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed and Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, and Shahid Kapoor starrer Bollywood epic Padmaavat had prompted months of protests across India. While the film was the story of 14th Century Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji’s attack on a kingdom after he was smitten by the beauty of its queen Padmavati, who belonged to the Hindu Rajput caste. Various Hindu groups and Rajput caste organisations allege that the movie includes an intimate scene in which the Muslim king dreams of becoming intimate with the Hindu queen. Episodes of controversy managed to grab the headlines for days, the movie shattered worldwide Box office records hitting Rs 400 crore mark, and we didn’t hear any protest from the same group any further.

What do all these indicate? Are we really into the era where the entertainment industry has started to create controversy around their ventures to gain enough reach and for that, they are not hesitant to use the most sensitive issue of a society? What if the guesswork by the netizens gets proved to be true? While marketing liberty and creative liberty are unquestionable but it’s not too late when the creative part of the industry should come up with new ideas to reach audiences rather than using religious and caste sentiments as their marketing tool.


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