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Padmavati Crisis: Social Media Reacts

Bollywood has been criticized time and again for the kind of movies made, since time immemorial. Although the Indian film industry has a dedicated censor board for inspection before they release, which in itself is bad enough, the people in India also enjoy taking law into hands. Something of the sorts has happened during the release of the hottest topic of discussion in town, the release of “Padmavati”. The wrath from people started long before the release of even the trailer, precisely in the month of January. While shooting in Jaipur, Sanjay Leela Bhansali – director of the film, was manhandled by the public and the sets of the film was broken. The claims were that Rani Padmini, the queen of Rajasthan was portrayed in the wrong light as the movie incorporated a “love sequence” between the Rajput queen and the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji.

Although the rage silenced for some time, as the release date for the movie (December 1, 2017) neared, the vandalization resumed and this time with much more effect. A fringe political group from Rajasthan, called the Karni Sena, has been infuriated by the movie and has announced to chop Deepika Padukone’s (lead actor playing Rani Padmini’s role) nose. In defence one of the leaders of the group said “Rajputs never raise a hand on women but if need be, we will do to Deepika what Lakshman did to Shurpanakha,”. Following this, the groups have also rejected the release of the movie on 1st December and called for a bandh on that day. The rage took an ugly turn when another group from Uttar Pradesh, Chatriya Samaj, announced a prize money of 5 crore for anyone who beheads Deepika and Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Although the entire film industry is standing in support of the movie’s release and hoping for it to be the biggest hit of all times, a lot of government leaders have a difference in opinion.

While the actors and director of the film are living in fear and have tightened security around their homes, Twitter has displayed a whole different dimension. Post the objections by the Karni Sena, twitteratis have expressed their disbelief of the whole issue by rolling out funny memes and troll messages. Here are a few examples:

But that’s not all social media has in store for us. While there has been jokes about the reactions by these fringe groups, Twitter has also exploded with people who are also supporting these groups, who have not just spoken about the actors and director in bad light, but also moved one step ahead and commented on how the entire Bollywood film industry is a ripped affair. While all this is happening online, the Indian tourism industry is also taking a hit, as Rajputs across the country are protesting, vandalizing property and even preventing visitors from visiting the Chittorgarh Fort.

With every passing day, more controversies related to the launch of a mere piece of art are being discovered. Things have taken such a deadly turn as according to latest news, a dead body was found hanging outside Rajasthan fort, with anti Padmavati slogans written on it.

This whole crisis has led to many decisions being taken by the government, apart from the protests and threats. Rajasthan government has suggested teaching the history of Rajputs in schools and colleges hereafter to understand the culture better and prevent such distortion of history as believed by protestors. In fact, people have even raised protests to the portrayal of the “Ghoomar” dance form, arguing that the queen never dances in front of public, allegations of which has also been denied by the director. How things will turn out eventually and whether the film will release on it’s due date, only time will tell.

Meanwhile, even though understanding how people react to a certain can be difficult, certain measures can be taken by the movie making industry to be prepared for situations like these. This is definitely not the first time a piece of art has been condemned and twitter has been flooded with love and hate posts about it.

Here’s what the production houses can do to be better prepared for crisis situations like these:

  1. Prepare the PR team towards unfurling the movie’s events more strategically keeping in mind the sentiment of the people.
  2. Deploying a social listening setup to understand the tension around the characters/places/historical era being depicted.
  3. Twitter being a space with extreme sentiment display, social listening on twitter around topics which are similar to the case can help derive learnings and better respond to haters.
  4. Analyzing situation of the like, can help combat disasters like these and avoid unrest in the nation by taking step by step precautionary measures to keep the public informed about the film and its nuances.