Even as the debate on accuracies in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film “Bajirao Mastani” continues to rage, nonagenarian historian and veteran of studies of the Marathas Babasaheb Purandare says millions of records of the ‘Peshwas’ still await to be read and researched.
Only around 5,000 pages of the over tens of thousands documents belonging to the Peshwa period are lying in records rooms in Pune and will throw light on life during the Peshwa rule if studied and researched, Purandare said.
The BJP-Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra had recently conferred the state’s highest award ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ on Purandare.
The decision had turned into a major political controversy in the state with some groups opposing the government move. Purandare has written several books on Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji. Over five lakh copies of his book in Marathi on Shivaji have been sold.
“At least somebody has thought of and come out with a movie in Hindi on Bajirao Peshwa,” the scholar said and added that most of the literature on the Maratha rule was in Marathi and non-Marathi speaking population in the country and the world was by and large unaware of the rich history of Maharashtra.
Purandare rues that very little of the Maratha history has been translated into English or other languages. There have not been films or plays written about the achievements of warriors like Bajirao in languages other than Marathi.
He says the British wanted history of Marathas especially in North India to remain confined to record rooms.
“No systematic research was encouraged. This has led to little knowledge about the Maratha Empire. Very little has reached the people through acts or films in languages other than Marathi. Questions are often raised about the Maratha army reaching Attock (now in Pakistan). There are documents that prove conquests by the Maratha army but little research and precious little has found its way in theatre,” he says.