Demonstrations over controversial film threaten to mar important Indian holiday

World Today

An Indian man speaks on the phone outside a cinema hall before the scheduled show of Bollywood film ‘Padmaavat’ in Mumbai on January 25, 2018. Thousands of police in riot gear guarded cinemas across India on January 25 amid threats of violence by Hindu hardliners opposed to the release of a movie about a legendary Hindu queen and a Muslim king. (AFP PHOTO / PUNIT PARANJPE)

Security has been tightened in several Indian states after protests against a Bollywood film turned violent. Demonstrators said the movie shows a romance between a legendary Hindu queen and a Muslim invader.

Schools in one New Delhi suburb were closed after a school bus was attacked. CGTN’s Shweta Bajaj reports that the unrest comes as the country is marking an important national holiday.

Tight security is normal in India ahead of Republic Day, but this year, there’s an extra reason to be on alert. Security has been tightened after radical Hindu groups began protesting a Bollywood Film called, Padmawat

They said the film is disrespectful to their culture by showing a Hindu queen romancing a Muslim king. People who have watched the film dispute that claim, but that hasn’t stopped the protests.

Protesters even attacked a school bus on Wednesday, prompting officials to close many schools in the area.

The demonstrations have already delayed the film’s by two months. One newspaper editor worries about the effect of censorship on India’s society.

“We need a culture of openness, of intellectual freedom, of social freedom,” said Madhav Nalapat, editorial director of The Sunday Guardian. “We have all these debates going on about what kind of food to eat, what kind of clothes to wear. Every day there’s a flurry of false reports, and films are being banned, books are being attacked. This is not a culture in which a service economy can grow. It’s not a culture in which a knowledge economy can grow.”

Many cinemas have decided not the screen the film even though India’s highest court has rejected a request to ban the film. The courts instead directed individual states to maintain law and order.

Some religious groups have accused the director of the film of distorting history. The filmmaker denies the allegations, but the debate continues.