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Sambhaji Brigade lodges complaint against Akshay Kumar

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. File   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

After a storm of criticism on social media, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar’s Nirma detergent advertisement, which allegedly disparaged soldiers of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji, has now raised the hackles of the pro-Maratha Sambhaji Brigade, which filed a complaint against the actor on Wednesday and demanded an immediate broadcast ban on the ad.

The Brigade has further threatened to launch a statewide agitation in the event the police failed to act on its complaint and register a First Information Report, and has warned that it would not permit the screening of Mr. Kumar’s films until he issued a public apology.

Shivaji’s mavlas

Members of the outfit, led by the Brigade’s Pune district president Santosh Shinde, filed a complaint against the Bollywood star and the management of the Nirma Group of Companies at the Shivajinagar Police Station, for defaming Chhatrapati Shivaji and the mavlas (warriors).

“Have the sacrifices of king Shivaji’s valiant mavlas been reduced to the frivolous selling of a product used for washing clothes? Chhatrapati Shivaji’s soldiers sacrificed their lives and shed their blood to fulfil their dream of Swarajya (Independence)…the deeds of Mavlas under the leadership of the Maratha generals Holkar and Scindia are renowned throughout the world. This crass advert seems to imply that the Maratha soldiers only spent time washing their clothes after their battles,” Mr. Shinde said.


In the advertisement, Mr. Kumar, who plays a king, is seen walking in with his soldiers and saying: “Maharaj aur uski sena dushman ko dhona jaanti hai, aur apne kapde bhi (the king and his armies know to trounce their enemies and also to keep their clothes clean).” When a woman ticks-off the men for their soiled clothes, they are seen washing their clothes with Nirma washing powder.

Strongly objecting to the very idea of parodying historical characters for the purposes of selling products, Mr. Shinde said that, in the past, filmmakers, novelists and other media had used Chhatrapati Shivaji as “a soft target” to sell “their cheap artistic wares”.

“There have been distortions about King Shivaji’s life in the past, with books and pamphlets misrepresenting facts or deliberately falsifying history. All this is highly condemnable,” he said.

The Brigade was in political limelight in 2004 after its infamous vandalism of the city’s Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in protest against American scholar James Laine’s book on Shivaji titled Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India (2003).

Vehement opposition

In August 2015, Brigade activists had vehemently opposed the Devendra Fadnavis-led Bharatiya Janata Party government’s decision to honour nonagenarian right-wing historian Babasaheb Purandare with the prestigious ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ award on grounds that the latter had deliberately distorted facts about king Shivaji’s childhood in service of a socially divisive agenda.

In January 2017, Sambhaji Brigade activists vandalised the bust of legendary Marathi litterateur Ram Ganesh Gadkari on grounds that the writer had negatively portrayed king Sambhaji, eldest son of king Shivaji, in his magnum opus Raj-Sanyas. The Brigade had claimed that Gadkari, in his unfinished Raj-Sanyas (roughly translated as ‘Kingdom renounced’) in 1919, portrayed Sambhaji as an alcoholic and a womaniser.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 7:47:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/sambhaji-brigade-lodges-complaint-against-akshay-kumar/article30513703.ece

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