Pathaan: Deepika Padukone’s bikini in Bollywood film song sparks outrage in India

India’s right-wing ecosystem is angry and a fringe outfit is protesting because Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone wore an orange coloured bikini for a song in a new movie alongside Shah Rukh Khan.

The reason for their anger is because the song for the Hindi-language movie Pathaan is called Besharam Rang, which translates to “shameless colour”.

The colour saffron – a shade of yellow or orange – is considered holy by adherents of the Hindu religion.

Both the Indian actors on Wednesday attracted the ire of Narottam Mishra, a regional leader and state minister of the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, who has weighed in on similar matters in the past.

Mr Mishra, also the home minister of the BJP-ruled central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, objected to the costume worn by Ms Padukone as well as the colour of the attire worn by her and Mr Khan, demanding its “rectification”.

“Deepika Padukone’s attire in the song is prima facie highly objectionable,” Mr Mishra said.

“The filming of the song clearly reflects a contaminated mentality... The visuals and costumes from the song should be corrected, otherwise, it will be a question to be considered whether the film should be allowed in Madhya Pradesh or not,” he added.

His comments were soon followed by protests in the state demanding a ban on the film slated to hit screens in January next year.

Members of a fringe right-wing outfit identifying itself as “Veer Shivaji Group” gathered in Indore city and burned effigies of the two actors. Shivaji was a 17th-century Indian warrior king.

Rajesh Kesarwani, another member of prime minister Narendra Modi’s BJP from the Uttar Pradesh state, criticised the song.

He called the use of the colour in the song “an insult to the Hindu community”.

“Vulgarity with saffron colour was being committed in a song in the movie and it is an insult to the Hindu community and Sanatan [term used by Hindus for Hinduism] culture. Hence, we have expressed our concern,” he said.

Indian films and actors have been on the receiving end by the BJP over symbolism around the Hindu religion. Earlier in July, a Toronto museum apologised for featuring content by an Indian filmmaker depicting the Hindu goddess Kaali smoking a cigarette that “inadvertently caused offence” to some people.

Mr Modi’s right-wing government has been accused by critics of violating the rights of minorities and orchestrating the erosion of religious freedom in India. The US state department’s annual report on international religious freedom stated that religious minorities in India faced intimidation throughout 2021.