NEW DELHI: Hindutva extremists led by members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Wednesday tore down portraits of movie stars Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat. Staging protests against the promotion of the movie Pathaan in Ahmedabad, they warned theatre owners against showing the film, which is due for release on Jan 25 and has both superstars in the lead.

The controversy started after Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra raised objections to one of the songs of Pathaan, released as ‘Besharam Rang’ (Shameless colours).

Mr Mishra then told media persons, “The costumes in the song at first glance are objectionable. It is clearly visible that the song of the film Pathaan has been shot with a dirty mindset.”

Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are both ruled by Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

On Jan 3, members of the Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM) staged a demonstration at Inox theatre in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city, warning the management not to release the movie. They raised slogans and submitted a memorandum to the theatre management de­m­anding that the movie is not released.

HJM president Jagdish Khatri said: “If the film Pathaan is released, then there will be a fierce protest. Today, we have given a memorandum to the management of Inox theatre regarding the non-release of the film.”

Besharam Rang, released on Monday, features Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone grooving in Spain, reports said. The music video begins with Deepika wearing a golden monokini while Shah Rukh is in a beach shirt. Composed by Vishal-Sheykhar, the lyrics are by Kumaar.

The song has been choreographed by Vaibhavi Merchant.

“The costumes in the song at first glance are objectionable. It is clearly visible that the song of the film Pathaan has been shot with a dirty mindset. I don’t think this is right, and I will tell the director and makers of the film to fix it. Earlier also Deepika Padukone came in the support of Tukde Tukde Gang at JNU and that’s why her mentality has come in front of everyone before,” Mr Mishra told reporters.

Tukde Tukde Gang (Break the country into pieces) is Hindutva’s description of students and intellectuals that support women’s rights or oppose rightwing dominance of state institutions. 

“And that is why I believe that the name of this song Besharam Rang is also objectionable in itself and the way saffron and green have been worn, the colours of the song, the lyrics and the title of the film are not peaceful. It needs improvement. If it is not done, then we will consider whether its telecast should be allowed in Madhya Pradesh. Now let’s see, so far all those who have been asked have improved. If it’s not done then we will consider,” reports quoted Mr Mishra as saying.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2023

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