Indian producers delay Bollywood film after protests

Members and activists of the Karnataka wing of Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena caste organization hold posters demanding the ban on screening of Bollywood movie ‘Padmavathi’, in Bangalore on Nov. 15, 2017. The activists alleged that the movie directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali at a cost of 1900 million Indian rupees distorts the historical facts. (AFP/Manjunath Kiran)
Updated 20 November 2017
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Indian producers delay Bollywood film after protests

MUMBAI: Indian filmmakers said they have delayed indefinitely the release of a Bollywood historical epic about a legendary Hindu queen that has been the subject of weeks of violent protests.
A caste-based group has been targeting “Padmavati,” which was due to hit screens on December 1, over rumors that the movie will depict a romance between the queen and a Muslim ruler.
In a statement late Sunday Viacom18 Motion Pictures said they had “voluntarily deferred” the release date of the film, which has yet to be certified by India’s censor board.
“We have faith that we will soon obtain the requisite clearances to release the film. We will announce the revised release date of the film in due course,” it said.
The movie first ran into opposition in January when protesters belonging to the Rajput Karni Sena caste-based group attacked director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and vandalized the set during filming in Jaipur in Rajasthan.
The protesters are apparently unhappy about speculation that the film will include a romantic liaison between Rajput queen Padmavati, also known as Rani Padmini, and the 13th and 14th century Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji.
The Rajput caste were historically Hindu warriors who ruled over kingdoms in western India.
Rajput Karni Sena accuse the film’s makers of distorting historical facts, but historians say the queen is a mythical character and there is no clear evidence that she even existed.
Protesters attacked another set near Mumbai in March, burning costumes and other props.
They have stepped up protests in recent weeks, including making a death threat against lead actress Deepika Padukone.
India’s Hindi film industry churns out hundreds of movies every year but filmmakers often face intimidation from fringe groups as well as an over-zealous censor board, fueling fears over creative freedom in the country.


Like a Berber: Madonna celebrates 60th birthday in Marrakech

Updated 19 August 2018
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Like a Berber: Madonna celebrates 60th birthday in Marrakech

  • The Queen of Pop donned the attire of a “Berber Queen” in Marrakech on her birthday
  • On Sunday, the American star posted pictures and videos on her Instagram of a fun photo shoot with British-Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj

JEDDAH: Madonna’s 60th birthday celebrations are creating quite a buzz, especially delighting her Arab fans that she chose to mark the milestone in Morocco.
The Queen of Pop donned the attire of a “Berber Queen” in Marrakech on her birthday, wearing a fuchsia chiffon long-sleeved gown by Gucci with Berber jewelry and a headpiece by Marianna Harutunian.
On Sunday, the American star posted pictures and videos on her Instagram of a fun photo shoot with British-Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj, known as the “Andy Warhol of Marrakech.” Madonna, who posed for pictures with her family, is seen dressed in a traditional red attire, accessorized with colorful jewelry and a Louis Vuitton headscarf.
“Life can be sweet and sour and sometimes a surprise can happen that you never would think of and this was one of (those) moments; want to thank Madonna and her lovely family and being patient for the shoot at my riad,” Hajjaj wrote on Instagram.
Hashtagged #birthday #magic #Marakesh, Madonna’s pictures have gone viral on social media since she first posted a portrait of herself bedecked in Berber jewelry and brandishing a sign that reads “The Queen.” She wrote: “Finally and at last it’s my birthday! I have survived! Life is beautiful!”
On the eve of the big day, she toured the former imperial city of Morocco under the close watch of the paparazzi and wrote: “Walking through the Labyrinth of the Medina during the Call to Prayer.” She posted a video shot at night, wandering in the alleys of the city’s ancient market.
“Mystical walk through the desert,” she captioned a photo featuring her in the desert, with six horsemen holding candles in the background.
Another portrait shows Madonna wearing a fez decorated with Berber jewelry, along with a caption reading: “Today I am wearing CAKE on my head!“
Known for repeatedly reinventing herself during her 35-year pop career, Madonna has been staying at the luxury palace-turned-hotel El Fenn, owned by the sister of British billionaire Richard Branson, Vanessa. The property has been redecorated and staff have had their smart phones confiscated to protect the privacy of Madonna and her guests. The birthday guest list has also been kept secret, and Moroccan police were keeping journalists and photographers at bay.
Guests reportedly dressed in traditional Bedouin garb for the Arabian-themed party featuring Berber music. According to the Mirror, Indian designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee designed kaftans and Berber costumes for them.
Agence France-Presse reported a local photographer as saying that he had spotted Madonna wearing a veil covering the hair and face but for the eyes. She reportedly visited the five-star Kasbah Agafay spa, went shopping at a souk and enjoyed a camel trek in the desert.
Local media reported that she and around 15 friends had dined out at a restaurant in western Morocco, escorted by bodyguards and under police surveillance.
Taking to social media under the hashtag #MadonnaAt60, fans from across the world sent birthday wishes to the pop diva. Since her first, eponymous album came out in 1983, Madonna has sold more than 300 million records, with albums such as “True Blue,” “Like a Prayer” and “Ray of Light” topping music charts around the world.