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What the massive success of Padmaavat teaches us
- Anish Mohanty           Let us know what you think about this article

Padmaavat has crossed more than 500 crores globally. The film, which was mired in several controversies, managed to hit the screens in India and foreign countries and has turned out to be a profitable fare for its producers and distributors. Though the film has received mixed response from the critics, every human being with a conscience must be rejoicing at the fact that the success of the film has served as a relief for Sanjay Leela Bhansali who went through hell while fighting for their labour of love. Sanjay, in particular, went through the maximum amount of trouble, including being physically assaulted by the members of a fringe group while shooting for the film in Rajasthan. Personally, I did not enjoy the film much and do not think too highly of it. However, the fact that the film has emerged a major success at the box-office gives me a lot of joy as this is the least the filmmaker deserves after going through so much while standing by his film. Here are a few lessons the success of the film has taught us.

Fringe groups created havoc, destroyed property and even hit commoners during their violent protest against the film. While the respective state Governments denied this, the fact remains that they did not do much to control the mob which was taking the law into their hands. A few people were arrested but these were mostly 'token arrests' to give people an idea that they were serious about curbing the activities of these anti-social fringe groups. The film was banned by the Governments of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana but the Supreme Court lifted the ban stating that state governments do not have the authority to ban a film after it has been granted a certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification. Despite the Supreme Court lifting the ban, the exhibitors in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh chose not to screen the film as they were unsure about the safety measures provided to their theatres and the patrons who would be visiting them. The film released on January 25, 2018 but preview shows were held in several theatres across the country on January 24. There was fear that people would not step into the theatres fearing attack by vigilante groups but to Bhansali's relief, people came in hordes to watch the film on January 24 itself. The next day, when the film released all across the country (except the places where there was a law and order issue), it raked in 18 crores at the box-office. The momentum continued and till date, the film has clocked more than 500 crores at the global box-office.

There was a point when Bhansali himself was not sure whether the film would see the light of the day. A lot of people were of the opinion that even if the film released it will get a lukewarm response at the box-office as it offends the sentiments of several people. This, people were commenting, even without watching the film. Violent incidents might make us cynical about our society at times and make us believe that we are living in a dark and depressing world. One of the things the success of the film has proved that this far from being the truth. If people had reservations about the film, they would not have gone to the theatres to watch it. If there was something objectionable about any community, they would have joined in the protests and urged people not to watch the film. The film grew from strength to strength, so even that was not true.

Fringe/vigilante/extremist groups do not represent the majority of the people residing in India. We might not be living in an ultra-progressive or a super developed country but most people are moderates and they do not represent the select few who create violence, terror and engage in disruptive activities.


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