Jaipur: A man was found hanging this morning at Jaipur's famous Nahargarh fort. On the stone wall nearby was scribbled "'Padmavati' ka virodh (in opposition to 'Padmavati')".
The police say it's not clear if this is a case of suicide or murder. The graffiti includes this warning: "We don't burn effigies, we hang them." The dead man has been identified as Chetan Saini, a local jeweler.
"Padmavati", the 190-crore film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, has drawn angry protests in Rajasthan where fringe groups like the Karni Sena says the movie "distorts history". Though they have not seen the movie, leaders of the Karni Sena and several politicians say the 13th-century queen, Padmini, has been disrespected by Mr Bhansali suggesting in his movie that she was romantically involved with Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji.
Lokendra singh Kalvi of the Karni Sena, which has led violent demonstrations, described this morning's death as "regrettable" and said "it should not have happened."
Mr Bhansali has denied any allusion to a love story, but several BJP-ruled states including Rajasthan have banned the movie, declaring they will not permit it to screen even if it is cleared by the censor board, which has yet to review the film. "Padmavati" has been produced by Viacom-18; the studio has suggested it will delay the film's release, originally planned for December 1, to next year.
Padmini, according to legend, was a Rajput warrior queen from Chittor in Rajasthan who set herself on fire to save her honour after Khilji defeated her husband in battle.
The Karni Sena has threatened Mr Bhansali and his lead star, Deepika Padukone, with violence. Both have been given state security. The Supreme Court has so far refused to ban the film. Union ministers like Uma Bharti have said the director should consult with historians and protestors to review objectionable scenes and delete them.
The Karni Sena assauled Mr Bhansali and vandalized his set while he was shooting "Padmavati" in Jaipur in January; large groups of Rajputs including in Chittor have held demonstrations against the film.