Indian politician offers £1m to behead Bollywood actress at centre of controversial film

Indian politician offers £1m to behead Bollywood actress at centre of controversial film

Sometimes films spark controversy and debate, with society exploding into uproar over a certain storyline, character or scene. I will never forget the day that Brokeback Mountain premiered and triggered a huge debate surrounding the portrayal of intimate homosexual relationships and sex scenes, the likes of which had never been seen before in such a mainstream movie.

However, while people may get up in arms about something they don't like in a movie, it's rare that they will call for a member of the cast to be beheaded.

Sadly, this is exactly what has happened in India, where a member of the country's Hindu nationalist ruling party has offered £1million for anyone who beheads the lead actress and director of a yet-to-be-released and already highly controversial Bollywood film.

The film, entitled "Padmavati" has sparked controversy in India due to its handling of a relationship between a Hindu queen and a Muslim ruler. Suraj Pal Amu, one of the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, was so offended by the storyline that he is now offering a bounty against actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Speaking at a public rally on Sunday, Amu said that the film, which has had its released date postponed, will not be released at all.

The movie is based on a 16th-century poem about a beautiful queen who chose to kill herself rather than be captured by the Muslim sultan of Delhi. Over time, the poem has been to represent a part of history, despite there being little historic to back this up.

Padmavati has caused a stir since the beginning of the year, with the film's set being attacked in Rajasthan by fringe groups and Bhansali being physically attacked in January. There have also been threats that theatres which are willing to showcase to film, will be burnt down for doing so.

Most of the anger stems from allegations that Bhansali has distorted history by filming steamy dream sequences between the protagonists in the film, something which the director denies. Despite the denial, a Hindu terror group has called for Padukone to have her nose cut - a symbol of public humiliation - for her part in the film.

The ruling party of India has now called for Amu to apologise publicly, claiming that he has enraged Hindu activists. Anil Jain, head of the BJP's Haryana unit, to which Amu belongs, claims that they are considering legal action against the politician: "We will not tolerate any violent remarks from our party members, but we also want the director to respect India's history."

It's not the first time that India's complex political structure has got in the way of books and movies being shared among the masses. In the past, India's censor board has rejected the erotic drama Fifty Shades of Grey, and steamy Hollywood movies that appear on Indian screens are scrubbed of all sex scenes. The Da Vinci Code was also banned in the Indian state of Goa, a state with a large Christian following, due to religious groups objecting to it.

The leading publishing house, Penguin India, pulled all copies of Wendy Doniger's The Hindus: An Alternative History from the shelves after a lawsuit from a Hindu right-wing group. The main objection to the book was that it described Hindu mythological texts as fictional. Also, since 1998, India-born writer Salman Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses has been banned due to some Muslim communities considering it blasphemous.

While you might not like one of the plot lines of a movie, it seems like a bit of an overreaction to call for the deaths of both the director and leading female protagonist. Just don't watch it, it's not that hard.