The ongoing clash between Shiv Sena and actor Kangana Ranaut is not the first stage of a fight between the party and the personalities of the Hindi film. However, it is the first where a Bollywood personality has taken Sena face to face.
Over the years, the Senate has taken up issues aimed at films or actors as well as when to fit their political agendas – from the Marathon Manuscripts clash to gathering everything related to Pakistan or Hindutva.
Sena supremo and party founder Bal Thackeray had personal relationships with actors Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar and Sunil Dutt, among others. Stories of evening sessions between elderly Thackeray and these actors on the terrace of Matoshree, Thackeray’s residence in Bandra East, are well known in political circles. However, his party had interference with almost all Bollywood bigwigs, from Dev Anand to Dilip Kumar to Shah Rukh Khan.
Political observers said this is the first time a Bollywood actor has fought with the ruling Shiv Sena, albeit with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the Center. The final war of words is a new kind of clash, one that Sena is not accustomed to.
Bollywood and Shiv Sena
The party’s first clash with the Hindi film industry came early after Sena was founded in 1966. In 1971, Marathi actor Krishna Kondke, popularly known as Dada Kondke, turned to Bal Thackeray for help after the Kohinoor cinema owner did not show the film. , Songadya, despite booking it three weeks ago. Instead, the movie theater featured Dev Anand’s Tere Mere Sapne.
Angry Shiv Sainiks protested outside the cinema hall after replacing the Marathi film with the Anand film produced under the Navketan flag. At the time, Sena’s main agenda was ‘mano-marathi’.
The Senate, which had adopted the Hindutva agenda, targeted Dilip Kumar for accepting Nishan-e-Imtiaz, a civilian honor from the Pakistani government in 1998. The Senate, which was the ruling Maharashtra party in alliance with the BJP at the time, questioned patriotism of Dilip Kumar, who was born Yusuf Khan in Peshawar in indivisible India.
In 1995, Bal Thackeray was given a special screening of Mani Ratnam’s Bombay film, which was based on the 1993 Mumbai riots and he demanded some cuts. In 1998, Sena protested against the screening of the film Deepa Mehta Zjarri and did not allow the release of Water as the former described lesbian relationships and the latter “hurt Hindu feelings”.
In 2010, the party protested and prevented the appearance of Shah Rukh Khan star, My name is Khan after the lead actor talked about the inclusion of Pakistani cricket in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Senate leaders have been protesting against films such as Salman Khan-star Tiger Zinda Hai in 2017, as its producers booked most of the screens, leaving no room for Marathon films in multiplexes.
Bollywood has not responded in the evening in most cases as Mumbai is a huge market for Hindi films and Sena’s insult meant the inconvenience of showing in cinemas. In addition, the Senate controls the Mumbai civilian authority (which is the authority on a number of things, including homes and offices, as well as permits to shoot in public places). Senna always had a strong presence on the ground. Thackeray was also an authority on some Bollywood personalities who would approach him if faced with trouble from unions or any local troublemaker. Questioning Sena or even ignoring him was not a preferred option for Bollywood.
Ranaut vs. Sena
Political observers point out that whether it was protests or blessings from Matoshree, no one wanted to rub Thackerays the wrong way. However, that changed recently after Ranaut’s attack on the party.
Political analyst Prakash Bal said Bal Thackeray built ties with the film industry, at the same time, ruled with an iron fist, meaning that going against the Senate would hurt their business.
“Thackeray had a personal equation with some Bollywood stars; Uddhav Thackeray did not do this as he took over the reins of the party. He left street politics in an attempt to project Shiv Sena in a different light. On the other hand, Raj Thackeray (who moved from the Senate to form the Maharashtra Navnirman Senate) inherited the way his uncle functioned. Therefore, in 2010, Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan went to Raj (when they faced a problem with the screening of their film) and not Matoshree, even though Bal Thackeray was alive then, “Bal said.
In 2016, Johar also had to meet Raj Thackeray after the latter’s party opposed the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, who had Pakistani actor Fawad Khan as one of the main actors.
Bal added that if Uddhav Thackeray had built a rapport with the film industry, he would have helped his son during this “political deception”. He also added that as the film economy changed, the bigwigs of the industry needed less protection from political parties. “Now, they make more money from foreign rights and other things than from here [the box office], ”He said.
Another political analyst Surendra Jondhale said Ranaut shifted the dimension of Sena’s interventions with Bollywood. “Senna always solved issues of Marathi culture and the common man with the film industry. He was the cultural defender, but this has turned into a crucial political battle with the BJP operating behind Kangana. “Senna has treated him well so far and will have to deal with him politically,” he said.
A Member of Parliament for Shiv Sena, who did not want to be named, said being in power imposes certain restrictions on reactions. “We must be careful not to break the law. What happened in the case of the former Navy officer was a diversion. “Shiv Sainiks will not tolerate anything against the Thackeray family,” he said. Amid criticism of the attack on former Navy officer Sena Minister Anil Parab said, “Even though we are in power, it does not mean that anyone can tell us anything. Our activists will not tolerate this.” must be respected by both parties.
Senate MP and main party spokesman Sanjay Raut said Mumbai and Maharashtra are being projected in low light as part of a “conspiracy” to slander the Maharashtra government. He said the issue is being kept alive for the Bihar elections.
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