On Sunday, during the Hindu festival of Navratri, the teaser of the upcoming Hindi film ‘Adipurush’ was unveiled on social media. Starring actors Prabhas, Saif Ali Khan and Kriti Sanon in the lead, the film is based on the epic, ‘Ramayan’.
Ever since the first trailer of the film dropped on social media, there has been a certain section on social media that has raised objections over the film, alleging that the film hurts religious sentiments. There have been demands for a ban on the film which is set to release in January 2023.
What is the controversy around ‘Adipurush’?
Most have raised objections to the way Raavan’s character looks in the film. Actor Saif Ali Khan is set to play the character in the film who is the main antagonist of the film. “The way in which Ravana has been depicted is absolutely wrong and condemnable. Through the media, we demand an immediate ban on the film,” said the head priest of Ram Temple in Ayodhya Satyendra Das to the press at an event recently.
He said ‘Adipurush’, a big budget adaptation of the Ramayana and directed by Om Raut of ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’ fame, doesn’t show Lord Rama and Hanuman as mentioned in the epic either and hence goes against their dignity.
BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj said that the film makes a mockery of Hindu deities.
“Raavan looks like a Muslim invader in the film while Hanuman`s image has been distorted beyond recognition which is highly condemnable. Filmmakers think they can get away with any level of cinematic liberty. This cannot be permitted,” he said at another event soon after the teaser was unveiled.
Mahant Satyendra Das, the chief priest of Ram Janmabhoomi temple, said, “No one can be allowed to misrepresent the Hindu mythology and distort the image of Hindu gods and goddesses.”
Sunil Raj of Hindu Rashtra Sena, a fringe outfit, said that the film’s teaser also portrays Sita in a poor light. “She looks more like a film heroine than a goddess. We will not allow the film to get a release.” Kriti Sanon plays Sita in ‘Adipurush’.
People have also expressed disappointment over the film`s poor VFX and the unrealistic look of various characters including Saif`s Raavan. Seeing Saif donning short spiked hairs, a long beard, and kohl lined eyes, several netizens have compared the actor`s look in the film with that of Alauddin Khilji rather than Raavan.
Call for a ban on the film
Amid controversies, Keshav Prasad Maurya, the deputy CM of Uttar Pradesh – a state in North India- has said that the film should be corrected before its January 2023 release.
Speaking to a news agency Maurya said, “First of all I want to wish everyone a very Happy Dussehra, I haven`t watched the teaser of `Adipurush` yet, but in any case, films that hurt religious sentiments should not be supported, that`s wrong.It needs to be corrected and presented properly.”
“If you hurt the religious sentiments, then all the believers will not accept such things. And I also believe this, if such kind of film is being made then it needs to be corrected before presenting it in front of the audience,”he added .
Earlier BJP spokesperson Malavika Avinash said, “I am saddened by the fact that the director let alone researching the Valmiki`s Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana or Tulsidasa`s Ramayana, or the umpteen numbers of interpretations of Ramayana that are available across board as far as Thailand where they do beautiful performances of the Ramayana. The least he could have done is research our own films; there are so many Kannada films, Telugu films, Tamil films, which show how Raavana looked.”
“He could have just looked up NT Rama Rao or Dr Rajkumar in `Bhookailasa` or any of these great actors, SV Ranga Rao in `Sampoorna Ramayana`, to understand how Raavana looked. The Raavana in the photograph that I see floating around is a guy who looks nothing Indian, who has blue eye makeup and is wearing leather jackets. This is our history they are representing; they cannot do it in the guise of creative liberty,” she continued.
The director of ‘Adipurush’ reacts
The film has been helmed by Om Raut who has reacted to the controversy surrounding his film. Raut felt that his film was too massive to be contained for mobile viewing.
Speaking to a daily, Raut said, “I was disheartened for sure, not surprised because the film is made for a larger medium, the big screen. You can cut it down to some extent but can`t bring it down to a mobile phone .”
“That`s an environment I can`t control. Given a choice, I`d never put it on YouTube but that`s the need of the hour. We need to put it there so that it reaches a wide audience,” Raut further added.
The film, which features Prabhas as Lord Ram, Saif Ali Khan as the Raavan, Kriti Sanon as Sita and Sunny Singh in lead roles, is set to debut in theaters on January 12, 2023, in several languages.