Controversy Around Padmavati


Controversy surrounding the upcoming film Padmavati has emerged yet again. The Bhansali film is scheduled to be released on 1st December, and critics are sharpening their knives. The opponents include BJP leaders like Uma Bharati and Giriraj Singh, who are presently ministers in union government. Election is taking place in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and the issue of the film Padmavati is likely to affect the election campaigning as well.
Who is right and who is wrong can only be ascertained after the release of the film, but even before its release people are agitating against it; they are alleging that the character of Queen Padmavati has been tarnished by the film makers. Queen Padmavati is remembered as a glorious woman and her memory has played an important role in the freedom struggle, even though the historicity of the Queen is quite uncertain. Indian historians do not find any evidence of a Queen named Padmavati of Mewar, who committed Jauhar (Self-Immolation) to save her modesty, which was threatened by advancing Allauddin Khilji after the fall of Chittorgarh fort. The seize of Chittorgarh in 1302 AD is a historical fact well recorded by Amir Khusro, a Sufi Saint, who was also a courtier in the Court of Allauddin Khilji. Amir Khusro had accompanied Allauddin Khilji in seize of Chittorgarh. He has not mentioned that the invasion was prompted by the love of Allauddin for any Queen of Chittorgarh. But yes, in one of his books he has mentioned that Allauddin was in love with a Queen of Gujarat. Another historian of the time of Khilji and Tughalak dynasties, Barani, also does not mention any love story between the Sultan and the Queen. According to his narration, the ruler of Mewar had surrendered to Allauddin after the fight and the Sultan had forgiven him and returned to Delhi. Barani was also an adviser to Allauddin and he had advised him to capture Mewar and other states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and contemporary Madhya Pradesh, before embarking on a campaign to emerge as a world conqueror. Hence, it can be confirmed that Allauddin had invaded Mewar and its power center Chittorgarh not for any queen, but for his imperial ambition.

The narrative of Padmavati came into existence in 1540, with the publication of “Padmavat”, an epic written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi depicting the love story of King Ratan Sen of Mewar and Princes Padmavati of Ceylon. The Princess had a talking parrot Hiraman, who became instrumental in developing love between the two. The two lovers got married and were living happily in Chittorgarh. According to the story of the epic, a Brahmin, who was earlier living in Chittorgarh instigated Allauddin to have Padmavati as her wife and the Sultan attacked the fort of Mewar and failed to defeat Ratan Sen. Ultimately, he arrested Ratan Sen by treachery and took him captive to Delhi. Two brave confidants of the Queen Gora and Badal were able to liberate Ratan Sen from the captivity of Sultan. Then Sultan made another invasion to Mewar. In the meanwhile, Ratan Singh died fighting yet another lover of the Queen Padmavati, who was also a Rajput King. The second invasion of Allauddin was successful and he captured the Chittorgarh, but he could not get hold of Queen Padmavati, who had committed Jauhar along with another wife of Ratan Sen namely Nagwati. With this narrative, the epic of Padmavati comes to an end.

After the publication of ‘Padmavat’ of Jayasi, many other stories related to Padmavati, Allauddin and Ratan Sen came into existence, but none of them has any historical basis. The legend of Padmavati became so strong that many learned people of India during freedom struggle started presenting this legend as history. Jawaharlal Nehru, too, in his book ‘Discovery of India’, recalls this legend as history.

Now, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is narrating the story in the form of a film starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, who are playing the characters of Padmavati, Allauddin Khilji and Ratan Sen, respectively. Though Sanjay Leela Bhansali is famous for tweaking history in the name of editorial freedom, he has been facing tough criticism for this film from the very beginning. Hence, it is expected that he might have not twisted the story by showing Queen Padmavati in a negative frame. He has already denied that there is no fantasy or dream sequence of love between Allauddin Khilji and the Queen. Hence, the protest against the film is not logical. Audiences should first wait for the film to release; only then should they should judge it.

-Contributed by Kriti

Picture Credits: openthemagazine.com

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