Poems of the Week

The Rajput Revolt Against Bollywood

by Orel Protopopescu

“Before Premiere, Protests by a Caste. After, by Critics.”—The New York Times

They stormed the movie set
of a film they hadn’t seen
to protest its depiction
of a fourteenth-century queen.

“Behead the shameful actress
who wore such skimpy clothes
to play our heroine,”
they screamed. “Cut off her nose!”

“Behead the film’s director!”
some angry Rajputs cried.
To salvage Hindu honor,
girls threatened suicide.

A school bus full of children
was stoned, and angry mobs
were spurred by politicians
who hoped to keep their jobs.

But what of Padmavati,
that legendary queen?
A Sufi poet made her up.
She only lives on-screen.