The attack which happened on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming movie Padmavati’s shoot in Rajasthan has proved that history can be a quite controversial subject for the cinema industry. Even when that particular subject has existed already.
Padmavati stars Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh. The very expensive and very ambitious production is scheduled to be released in December. Outrage followed the project’s announcement. The Self-declared guardians of the Rajput history got angry at the whole idea that a film treatment with song and dance would humanise Alauddin Khilji. The men who vandalised the sets and slapped Bhansali belonged to the Shri Rajput Karni Sena which also denounced Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar in 2008, Ekta Kapoor’s TV series, Jodha Akbar in 2013 claiming that history was distorted in them. The founder of the organisation declared that Sanjay Leela Bhansali shouldn’t film the things which haven’t happened actually in history.
If something links Rani Padmavati and Jodhaa Akbar, is the question if either of the royal women really existed. The historians are totally divided on this question that whether Jodha was one of the wives of Akbar. They even question this whole belief that Padmavati was wife of Rawal Singh Ratan of Chittorgarh in 14th century Rajasthan. It is suggested that she was just a product of imagination of bards as well as minstrels who just mixed all the facts, fantasy and fiction in their poems.
The Helen of Troy like Padmavati legend is also based in most of the epic Padmavat poem which was developed by Malik Muhammad Jayasi 2 centuries after the reign of Khilji. According to legends, Khilji was highly obsessed with the beauty of Padmavati and set out for capturing Chittor for forcibly wedding her. When the Rajput’s army fell to invaders, the Chittor women, led by their queen committed jauhar, she along with her female army jumped into fire for protecting their honour.
The whole drama inherent in this story and trope of the Hindu valour trumping lusty Muslim king have galvanised imagination of the Indians over ages. Apart from some movies, the story also inspired a television series Chittod Ki Rani Padmani ka Johur which was aired on Sony TV in the year 2009.
The Tamil movie Chitoor Rani Padmini, which was directed by Chithrapu Narayanmurthi in the year 1963 starred Vjayanthimala as queen Padmavati, Sivaji Ganeshan as Chitoor king and the leaving screen male protagonist, MN Nambiar as King Khilji.