DIANA JABLONSKI WRITES – Riots and protesting broke out in India last month against the release of the controversial Bollywood film “Padmaavat.”

Protesters have filled streets, vandalized cinemas, ransacked shops, burned vehicles, and called for the film’s ban. In fact, protests started a year before the film’s release, with vandals damaging the film set and assaulting director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Threats were similarly made against the film’s actors.

Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, and Shahid Kapoor star in the film, which tells the story of a 16th century poem about a Muslim ruler, Alauddin Khilji, who attacks a kingdom after setting his eyes on its queen, Padmavati.

Critics have said that Padmaavat inaccurately depicts religion by portraying a Muslim ruler in love with a Hindu Queen. Although Khiji is based on a historical figure, Padmati is said to be a fictiona, as there is little evidence she existed or that there was any relationship between the two. But some feel the film is insensitive toward religion, regardless of whether it is fiction.

Recently, Malaysia announced it will ban the film due to the fear that riots amongst the Muslims in their country might occur. The chairman of the National Film Censorship Board (LPF), Mohd Zamberi Abdul Aziz, is also head of the culture ministry, and said the lead character: “[Is] portrayed as a Sultan who is arrogant, cruel, inhumane, devious with all kinds of trickery, unreliable and who does not fully practice Islamic teachings.”

Despite the furor surrounding the film, many Bollywood celebrities have tweeted their appreciation for the film after watching it, including Alia Bhatt, Divyanka T. Dahiya, and Nakuul Mehta.

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