Padmavati Row: A royal controversy blown out of proportion over unconfirmed ‘history’

Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is bringing the most-anticipated period drama, Padmavati, which stars Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh in the leading roles. However, the film has been trapped into controversy created by Shri Rajput Karni Sena for an alleged dream sequence between Rani Padmini and Alauddin Khilji and Ghoomar song. But, is it necessary to protest against Padmavati?

Reportedly, since the development of the film, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been attacked by Karni Sena activists twice in Rajasthan as well as Kolhapur for making this period drama which is based on the historical incident of Chittor’s queen Rani Padmini who commits ‘jauhar’ i.e self-immolation along with her companions to protect their honour and get captured by Alauddin Khilji and its sena. Respectfully, for this act, Rani Padmini (Padmavati) is considered as the goddess of the people of Rajasthan. Then, why are local people started protesting against the film?

Padmavati Row: A royal controversy blown out of proportion over unconfirmed ‘history’

Apparently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali made Padmavati, on an epic fictionalised poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540 CE. in which he created the whole picture of the incident. However, Karni Sena and other people of Rajasthan think that Bhansali has portrayed history in a wrong way. Well, if we consider it as a history, then we should note that in India, historical incidents have been written with historian’s different-different perspective. Because, if we take Rani Padmini’s history into consideration then you will find that it has been written by many historians’ with their different perspectives.

As per Indian Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540 CE, titled Padmavat, this historical incident had taken place in 1303 CE. However, any accounts of the Chittorgarh siege earlier to these, such as chronicles by Amir Khusrau (South Asian Sufi musician, poet and scholar of 13th century), Ziauddin Barani (Muslim political thinker of the Delhi Sultanate), and Abdul Malik Isami (14th century Indian historian), make no mention of this queen. Most modern historians have also rejected the authenticity of the Padmini legend. Many historians also says that Rani Padmini’s existence is also a big question. Was she a fictional character or real personality is still unconfirmed.

Padmavati Row: A royal controversy blown out of proportion over unconfirmed ‘history’

Padmavati’s story is also considered as a mythology by some other historian because of its unconfirmed existence. Concentrating on different perspectives about Padmavati, In 1589 CE Hemratan, a Jain monk51 of the Kharatara gacchha (monastic lineage), wrote Gora Badal Padmini Chaupai. This was the first Rajput adaption of the legend and this is when Padmini became a historical figure. However, the 16th-century historians Firishta (Persian historian) and Haji-ud-Dabir mentioned Padmini was not the wife but daughter of Ratan Sen. Since then, during 16th century to 18th century, many Rajput versions of Padmavati had come in which Padmini became a symbol of valour and sacrifice. She has also been dubbed as ‘chaste Hindu woman’, and her suicide (jauhar) is seen as a heroic act of resistance against the ‘Muslim invader’, despite having no historical evidence.

Padmavati Row: A royal controversy blown out of proportion over unconfirmed ‘history’

However, as per Jayasi’s poem which is also remade in the form of Bhansali’s film Padmavati, Rani Padmini was an exceptionally beautiful princess from Singhal kingdom (Sri Lanka). Ratan Sen (The Maharawal Singh in Bhansali’s film) was a Rajput and ruler of Chittor. He married the beautiful princess and brought her to Chittor.

Moreover, Alauddin Khilji’s motive of attacking Chittorgarh was also written with a different perspective. In Jayasi’s version, Chittor court Raghav Chetan told Padmavati’s exceptional beauty to Alauddin which resulted him to attack Chittor to capture her. However, Ziauddin Barani’s version, in 1297 CE, an advisor had told Alauddin that he should conquer Ranthambore, Chittor, Chanderi, Dhar and Ujjain before embarking on a world conquest. This, and not Rani Padmini, was the reason why he started towards Chittor. Historian Subimal Chandra Datta (1931) believes that Alauddin’s attack on Chittor was not motivated by Padmini but was strictly political, to increase his stronghold on the north-western front.

Padmavati Row: A royal controversy blown out of proportion over unconfirmed ‘history’

This shows that people are still clueless about the facts of this historical incident. But sadly, their vandalism on the streets as well as in the society are directly affecting people. Now, if we talk about the controversy about Padmavati, then Sanjay Leela Bhansali himself released a video and officially declared that there is no dream sequence between Rani Padmini and Alauddin Khilji. Moreover, the director also said that he is highly influenced by Rani Padmini’s heroic act.

Watch Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s clarification here:

However, people also started countering the film for its Ghoomar song in which Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmini is seen dancing in front of Raja Ratan Singh played by Shahid Kapoor. But Rajput community people think that the queen can’t dance in the whole darbar. Moreover, in the song, Deepika aka Rani Padmini’s waist has also been exposed in the song which has become a major topic of debate.

But it is said that Ghoomar dance is usually done on the celebratory occasion. Interestingly, the newly-wed bride also does Ghoomar after entering her husband’s house. However, protesters are protesting against the film without knowing the facts that the Ghoomar song has actually come on that newly-wed bride celebratory situation or other situation.

Padmavati Row: A royal controversy blown out of proportion over unconfirmed ‘history’

Currently, Karni Sena is threatening makers of the film as well actor for not allowing the release of the film in the country. According to them, Padmavati is affecting the ancient culture of India. And it is not the first time that period drama films are countered by a certain section of the community. Earlier, we have seen Jodhaa Akbar and Bajirao Mastani facing vandalism before its release. However, they somehow managed to succeed at the box office.

In the end, we can only say that if you want to protest the film, it is better not to watch it. But by creating chaos on the street, threatening makers for their creativity doesn’t take you to any conclusion. It is everyone’s personal choice whether they want to watch the film or not. But cinema has always been showing the image of society and Padmavati is also a portrayal of a strong woman, which others should take a lesson from.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Padmavati is releasing on December 1, 2017.

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