Rani Padmini is a legendary 13th-14th Century Rajput Indian Queen and was considered to be one of the most beautiful princesses of the Singhal Kingdom (Now Sri Lanka). Ratan Sen was a Rajput ruler in Chittor (Now in Rajasthan) and after proving his bravery to her, won her hand in marriage and brought her back to his Kingdom. However, in 1296 Alauddin Khalji ascended the throne of the Delhi Sultanate and he set out to capture the Indian Sub-continent. He heard of the beauty of Rani Padmini and was enamored by it; he laid siege to the Rajput ruler’s capital of Chittor, eventually the city falls to Khalji’s army. Before Khalji can get to Padmini, she commits Jauhar i.e. she kills herself so that her honor can be maintained. But has her honor really been maintained?
Padmavati is a movie that is based on this story, and was going to be released in early December 2017, it is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali who is a notable film maker. Ever since he announced that the movie is in the making, there have been huge widespread protests against the movie, even before the scenes were shot. The sets of Padmavati were vandalized multiple times by the protesters. They claim that the movie is tainting and maligning history of India and that it also glorifies Alauddin Khalji, a barbarian from outside of our borders.
There are a few things we need to understand. The most important fact is, the story of Rani Padmini is a legend (fictional) and that her existence is very much disputed by historians. Therefore if a story is fictional, then there cannot be restrictions on creativity when that story is used for film making. When creative boundaries are placed on film-making, or even any other form of art; the quality deteriorates considerably.
However, it is also not correct to play on people’s sentiments (if there are any), the same story could have been given a different name and the line,’inspired from the story of Rani Padmini’ could have been inserted and there would not have been any issue. What needs to be done is, the makers of the movie and the groups who are protesting against this movie need to sit down and peacefully talk things out among themselves.
Second, it is important to know that even though Alauddin Khalji is considered an outsider, he did considerable things for India; if it were not for him our history and our contemporary society would be completely different. The most notable contribution of Khalji, apart from his administrative contribution is his success in military conquest. The Mongols invaded India during his reign and he defeated them, not once, not even twice; but five times. This is a considerable feat as no one was able to withstand the power of the Mongols, they had captured Russia in the winters making them the only invading force to successfully invade Russia during the winters. Alauddin Khalji was able to defend against a force like that and we have to give him that credit. We cannot communalise history in such a manner, the circumstances and situations which happened then were completely different to what they are now; a comparison is simply illogical.
Under no circumstances am I glorifying Khalji, I am stating the facts and he should be given credit where its due to him. Shouldn’t this be considered as maligning history if we only think of Khalji as an outsider who wanted to drain India of its wealth and completely ignoring the fact that he possibly saved us from the Mongol force and more?
The ruling party has also been silent on this issue, instead of mediating between the groups and creating a conducive environment for discussions to take place; the ‘fringe elements’ have been allowed to grow beyond control. Bounties being placed on heads of actors is extremely deplorable in a democratic country like India where we so cherish our history of democracy. What democracy do we talk about where people are threatened to have their noses chopped off? It is high time the government intervenes into the issue and begins to do what it was supposed to do all these months ago.
We cannot ignore the fact that there has been a growth in such issues and incidents in the country. Yet we must look at the brighter side that these issues are finally being highlighted and discussed in mainstream media. A considerable improvement, such an issue would not be discussed say 15 years ago. We have grown, but we mustn’t stop, we must continue this growth.