Most in the Indian film industry have protested the way Sanjay Leela Bhansali was manhandled in Jaipur during shooting of his next film Padmavati based on 13th Century queen Padmavati or Padmini who, according to Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s 16th Century epic poem Padmavat, had committed suicide in an act of mass-immolation along with many other women of Chhittorgarh seeing impending defeat and capture by the forces of Allauddin Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate. Attackers alleged that, Playing with history and people’s sentiments, some objectionable scenes were being filmed between the characters of Rani Padmavati and Allauddin Khilji.
The assault on Bhansali is an outrageous act and is being condemned widely and like has become the norm now, Twitter is the primary platform giving expression to people’s anger. But some are going a step further and asking others to join by setting a precedent like actor Sushant Singh Rajput has done, by removing his surname from his Twitter handle. So his Twitter handle @itsSSR has Sushant only as his introduction. And it seems he is on a Twitter campaign to take the march further. He is still tweeting his thoughts on the issue and is replying back to trolls as well.
Tagging #padmavati, he had written on January 27, “We would suffer till the time we’re obsessed with our surnames. If you’re that courageous, give us your first name to acknowledge”.
Naturally, it was an open invitation to trolls and they were there with a bang, with their obnoxious language and all unhindered obscenities. They started questioning his roots, his intention, his mental balance, even trying to give it a communal angle. Sushant hit back writing that ‘people quote history to search for their relevance in future, not knowing that their names surely will be forgotten forever.
When someone commented that Sushant didn’t have the balls to stand for history, Sushant retorted saying ‘he has the balls to stand up for the future, so just shut up you joker’. It was yesterday, on January 28.
Today, on January 29, he tweeted his mind again on the issue, “There is no religion or cast bigger than humanity and Love and compassion makes us human. Any other division is done for selfish gains.”
Trolls, too, were there, on their job again. People wrote that removing surname was a business driven decision and even after that Bhansali would not take Sushant in his films. Trolls name-called the whole film industry saying that they were an insensitive and apathetic lot.
When someone advised Sushant that we use ‘surnames to respect of fathers and forefathers and due to some stupid acts by some idiots, we should not stop following them, Sushant replied gently, “Well I respect my father and he knows it. But that doesn’t allow me to disrespect somebody’s son. Violence is not bravery. You react on a speculation because of fear. There are ways to put up your point but that requires intelligence.”
When someone tested his patience saying “why doesn’t he change his name too, if he doesn’t follow any religion then why a Hindu name Sushant?”, the actor gave him a befitting reply, “I’ve not changed my surname idiot. I’m probably 10 times more Rajput than you are if you’re implying courage. I’m against the cowardly action.”
It is interesting to see someone from the Indian film industry taking a principled stand. Hope it will inspire many others in his fraternity to do so. Padmavati or Rani Padmini was real of fictitious is not the issue here. When it comes to the legends that have become part of our folklore, people go by sentiments and not logics.
Many Rajput outfits led by Karni Sena have alleged that history is being distorted in Bhansali’s movie. Distorting history or manipulating historical facts for creative freedom or to add drama to an otherwise flat storyline is done all across and is a hotly debated issue, be it Hollywood’s Schindler’s List or Gladiator or Argo or other such productions or our own Jodhaa Akbar or Bajirao Mastani (Bhansali’s last film) or even 1982’s Gandhi that was an international production. Schindler’s List, Gladiator, Argo, Gandhi and many other films alleged for distorting history have emerged as milestones of the world cinema and have gone on to win Oscars. Even back home, despite all their controversies, Jodhaa Akbar and Bajirao Mastani were commercial successes.