The Film 'Padmavati' is Rousing Passions and a Historical Truth is Negated
The Film by Sanjay Bhansali
Sanjay Bhansali is a well-respected filmmaker from Bollywood. He has to his credit a string of thoughtful movies that have clicked at the box office. His last offering was the film 'Baji Rao Mastani', which was based on the love of the Maratha warrior BajiRao for a Muslim princess. This movie was based on a historical fact.
Bhansali has now produced and directed a movie concerning the legendary infatuation of the Sultan of Delhi, Allauddin Khilji for the queen of Chittor, Rani Padmavati. This tale with minor changes has enthralled a billion souls and even more in India and the story is ingrained in the Indian psyche.
Allauddin had heard of the beauty of the Rajput queen and he wished to have her for his harem. He made a foray into the state of Chittoor. I must add that Allauddin had a fearful reputation as a merciless warrior and the Raja of Chittoor was wary of him. Allauddin reached Chittoor and met the Raja. he offered to go back in case he could get one glimpse of the queen. The Raja for reasons best known to him showed his wife's reflection in a mirror.
Allauddin was enchanted by the beauty of the queen but resolved to come back with a big force and capture her. He returned a year later, with a massive force and the Raja died fighting him and his queen Padmavati committed "Jauhar", ritual suicide by burning herself. She did not become part of Allauddins harem, preferring to die by burning. Despite all his military prowess, Allauddin did not get what he fervently desired.
The Film and Inflamed Hindu Higher caste passions
The film is due to be released on 01 December but now is likely to be delayed. The film has roused the passions of the Rajput community. Their spearhead, the Karni Sena has been holding marches and making threatening comments like beheading the producer Bhansali and cutting off the nose of Deepika Padukone, the heroine who plays the role of Padmavati.
The agitation is confined to two states basically namely Rajasthan and Gujarat. In both these states, the Rajputs who are a higher caste Hindu clan are residing in substantial numbers. These people have vowed to stop the screening of the film and a cinema hall in Kota which was screening a tailor of the movie was vandalized. The government, which is a BJP ruled state did nothing as it pandered to a Hindu vote bank in the coming election.
The agitators approached the Supreme Court to ban the release of the film and the SC refused to accede to the request.
Reasons for the Agitation
One fails to understand the reasons for opposing a film on a historical fact. But one reason that does appear plausible is that the idea that the Hindu ruler was defeated by the Sultan who was a Muslim may have something to do with it. It is a fact that Allauddin was the greatest Sultan of the Khilji dynasty that ruled North India in the 13th century. His military prowess can be gauged from the fact that he marched with his army over a thousand miles to attack Chittor and reduced the fortress. Another reason is that Rani Padmavati committed Jauhar. This was a defeatist concept and does not speak highly of the Rajput community. Overall the effect of the film would be to showcase the weakness of a Hindu ruler.
The Rajputs are also agitating against a dream sequence purported to be in the film, where Allauddin fantasized about Padmavati. Nobody knows that such a scene exists and the producer has denied it, but passions are inflamed and the fringe elements, the hoodlums, and thugs are taking over as the BJP government had abdicated all responsibility. By now the ringleaders should have been arrested and there are enough provisions in the Indian Penal code to take action.
The happenings of the last few days have saddened many people. It's a pity that the fringe elements are going about attacking theaters and issuing 'Fatwas" like in Islam to behead Bhansali and cut the nose of Deepika. Some stringent action is called for otherwise a small flame may become a raging fire.