Three shows of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Bajirao Mastani were cancelled in Pune’s City Pride theatre on Friday after protest by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists. The film, which depicts the love story of Maratha general Peshwa Bajirao I and Muslim princess Mastani, has faced attacks ever since its promotional clips came out.
The protesters claimed the film “distorts history” and shows Bajirao in a poor light. Bhansali shows the battle-scarred Maratha general, who remained unvanquished in his life and his passion for Mastani, the beautiful and courageous half-Rajput-half-Muslim princess of Bundelkhand. The roles have been essayed by Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, with Priyanka Chopra playing his first wife Kashibai.
The film had earlier faced a slew of protests by Hindu groups as well as the descendants of Bajirao and Mastani. They alleged that the film did not portray history and had taken umbrage to the fact that Bajirao, Mastani and Kashibai were seen dancing in the film.
“Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani venture aimed at earning profit had distorted historical facts according to the film’s promos and songs,” Awais Bahadur, who claimed to be the heir of Peshwa Bajirao and Mastani’s descendant, had said earlier this month. He, along with four others, had also filed a petition in the Madhya Pradesh high court seeking a stay on the release of Bajirao Mastani.
A protest was also held at Shaniwarwada, the seat of Peshwa rilers, on December 12 to condemn the promotional videos and songs of the movie and alleged that the film is an attempt to distort history. Another group, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), had lodged a complaint with the Central Board of Film Certification and the Central government’s culture department, seeking a ban on the film’s release if the “distortion” is not removed.
The film, made at an estimated cost of Rs 100 crore, is based on a book Rau Kashibai. It also carries a lengthy disclaimer about how creative liberties have been taken with history. Film’s lead actress Priyanka took to Twitter with a message for people who wanted the ban. Bajirao Mastani released countrywide and abroad on Friday.