Over the years, there’s been a rising misconception that a fictional film based on certain historical elements or consisting of historical characters (or just people who actually lived) is bound to or by law has to project all the elements as though it were a reflection of a History text book.
NO filmmaker HAS TO do anything, first let’s get that clear. Just like NO potential audience member HAS TO watch any film.
It’s really that simple.
To explain this for the dummies, who think every filmmaker making a historical film has a responsibility to massage their egos, let me give you the example of Inglorious Basterds. This is a film by Quentin Tarantino, arguably one of the best filmmakers working today. The film won an Academy Award (and was nominated for another 7) and hey, the Academy and Quentin himself know so much more about cinema and film history than most or all of you. So why is this film relevant with regards to the pointless noise around SLB’s Padmavati?
In this film, QT distorted famously known historical “facts” (that even 8 year olds know) to fit into a story HE wove around characters who had lived. ADOLF HITLER WAS KILLED IN A MOVIE THEATRE, IN THIS FILM.The film is largely regarded as one of Tarantino’s Best Films. No body got offended by this distortion. Because it is FICTION. It is not a documentary. This is the first point I’m trying to get across.
Secondly, where are all the comments about Padmavati coming from? How many of those people have even watched the film? Not a single person, making noise for fifteen minutes of fame, having seen nothing but the trailer (which also, I highly doubt they’ve seen). So on basis of PRESUMPTION, they’re already DECIDING that they WILL be offended by the film. Before watching a second of the film. This happened with a lot of films out here. It happened with Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan as well. If I’m not wrong, it happened with a few words in the lyrics of Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai as well and has happened famously with a LOT of films. Many people have USED films to get the fame and limelight they have always been craving.
Thirdly, and this part is overtly disturbing, people are justifying a violent attack on Mr Bhansali which came months before the film, for something that MIGHT be in the film. There are two problems here. One, you are justifying violence for your own misunderstanding surrounding a director working on a film with historical elements and two, you don’t even know what is in the film. So according to these folks, a violent act on an innocent artist is justified because the film he is currently shooting MIGHT have something in it that MIGHT offend SOMEONE.
Fourthly, we have such a rich history. How many filmmakers on a commercial level are even making anything even minutely historical? The ones who are projecting the absolute beauty of those Worlds, always find themselves, in some sort of a problem that inadvertently builds up to a controversy. This discourages filmmakers from making historical films and then people say “Why aren’t they making films on our rich culture / heritage?” It’s because every time someone even comes close to making something about a historical character, SOMEONE decides to stand up and use that to gain some fame. SOMEONE or the other calls for a ban, calls for cuts, and so on.
Take a moment to think about this. All the people who are making this noise at the moment, how many opportunities would they get to get their names on all these platforms? To be seen on TV? To be written and spoken about? To be debated about on news shows? Very few or none. Some of them will use these opportunities to provide a proof of their existence. This is it. They are done now. They got what they wanted. At the expense of a great filmmaker, a large crew, who I’m sure have worked extremely extremely hard to create something that looks this spectacular.
There are no rules for a fiction film. No rules anywhere. That is why it is called fiction. Cinema, literature and the like, allow us to take characters who have lived, put them in different, interesting situations and create something. No filmmaker will ever do something to purposefully offend anyone. An artist will only create something because s/he wants to. It’s that simple.
If we make a list of things everyone in India is offended by, no one will be able to make a single film or even a painting or write a novel.
Art and literature would cease to exist.