As the Padmavati protests turn violent and now, gruesome, the film industry has resolved to fight back in a big way. Distinguished members of the fraternity feel outraged. Says Shabana Azmi, “The nation is in the grip of a hyper-nationalism. These exaggerated protests against imagined insults to the nation’s pride have never been as bad as it is today. I won’t be a stifled bystander while my colleague Deepika Padukone is issued death threats.”
Ashok Pandit one of the most vocal supporters of Padmavati, is also the President of the Indian Films & Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) has called for a 15-minute tools-down for the entire Indian film industry on Sunday afternoon .
Says Ashoke, “We’ve called for a complete blackout in every film industry of India in the North, South and east. It is now up them whether they want to join us in this silent protest or not. In Mumbai, film workers owing allegiance to 21 organizations and associations are coming together at Film City at precisely 3.30 pm. We will proceed with the blackout from 4.30 pm to 4.45 pm.”
Ashoke feels it’s a now-or-never situation for the film industry. “We cannot give in to the goon element. Today they are demanding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s head and Deepika Padukone’s nose. Only God knows what they will be demanding next. We cannot allow hoodlums from the fringe elements to dictate to us.”
Ashoke feels a lack of solidarity in the film industry. “Everyone is into his own world impervious to what is happening elsewhere. That’s wrong. Today they are doing this to Bhansali. Tomorrow it could be you or me.”