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“Padmavati”, one character many theories

With just few days left for its release, protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmavati have got harsher. Rajput organisations have spread their demonstrations to other parts of the country, including Bengaluru. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government has provided a precautionary security cover to Bhansali amidst increasing hullabaloos and growing threats ahead of the film’s release.

The movie is yet to be released, no body actually has seen the film but everyone is baselessly making statements. The demonstrators assert the film shows the legendary Rajput queen Padmavati and her community in poor light – which has been denied by the makers of the film. The latest to hit out against the film is Maharashtra BJP MLA Ram Kadam. He has asked Bhansali to remove the ‘objectionable scenes’ from the film and if the director doesn’t comply with the demand the Union will make sure that none of his films see the light of the day in future. Kadam made a statement stating that Bhansali should not test the patience of the film union. Kadam, who is also the head of Film Studio Setting and Allied Mazdoor Union, insisted that he was speaking as the chief of the union and not as a BJP lawmaker. Whereas, BJP top leaders and state government is already in support of the film, which discourages Kadam and his motives of making sensation and earning perks.

Interestingly, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena will take a call on whether they will protest against director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati or not after watching the film. They have decided not to protest just for the sake of it. First-time Raj Thackrey’s party has shown maturity by not vandalising or attacking film or cinema halls or posters. Earlier this same party had made it difficult for many filmmakers to release their film.

On the other hand, several members of Rajput Karni Sena had earlier protested in Bengaluru against the film and pressed for a ban on it. They also attacked Bhansali and his crew, but the director did not stop there and he completed his movie. Kadam has also threatened to block the release of the movie. But his party totally refutes his warnings. Meanwhile Shiv Sena is a silent spectator and yet to pass any comment. From film industry to politics there is strong support to the film release. The agitators are only the particular group from Rajasthan. Members of Rajput Karni Sena disrupted the shoot of the film in Jaipur earlier this year. As the film’s release nears, they have intensified their protest against the film. Rajput Karni Sena member Mahipal Singh Makrana issued a fresh threat in a self-made video. He said, “Rajputs never raise a hand on women but if need be, we will do to Deepika what Lakshmana did to Shurpanakha.” On the other hand, Lokendra Singh Kalvi, Rajput Karni Sena chief said that they would call for a bandh on December 1, 2017, the film’s release date. They are planning to gather in lakhs.

“Padmavati” movie is based on the legend of Rani Padmini, a Hindu Rajput queen, mentioned in Padmavat – an Avadhi language epic poem written by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540. According to Padmavat, she was the daughter of Gandharv Sen, the king of the Singhal kingdom. She became close friends with a talking parrot named Hiraman. Her father resented the parrot’s closeness to his daughter, and ordered the bird to be killed. The parrot flew away to save its life, but was trapped by a bird catcher, and sold to a Brahmin. The Brahmin bought it to Chittor, where the local king Ratan Sen purchased it, impressed by its ability to talk. The parrot greatly praised Padmavati’s beauty in front of Ratan Sen, who became determined to marry her. Guided by the parrot and accompanied by his 16,000 followers, Ratan Sen reached Singhal after crossing the seven seas. There, he commenced austerities in a temple to seek Padmavati. Meanwhile, Padmavati came to the temple, informed by the parrot, but quickly returned to her palace without meeting Ratan Sen. Once she reached the palace, she started longing for Ratan Sen. Meanwhile, Ratan Sen realised that he had missed a chance to meet Padmavati. In anguish, he decided to slaughter himself, but was interrupted by the deities Shiva and Parvati. On Shiva’s advice, Ratan Sen and his followers attacked the royal fortress of Singhal kingdom. They were defeated and imprisoned, while still dressed as ascetics. Just as Ratan Sen was about to be executed, his royal bard revealed to the captors that he was the king of Chittor. Gandharv Sen then married Padmavati to Ratan Sen, and also arranged 16,000 padmini, women of Singhal for the 16,000 men accompanying Ratan Sen.

In 1303, Alauddin Khilji, the Turko-Afghan ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, laid siege to the Chittor Fort in Rajputana. According to Padmavat, Khilji led the invasion motivated by his desire to capture Rani Padmini. Rani Padmini is said to have committed jauhar (self-immolation) along with all the other women of the city to protect their honour. The men of the city stormed out in a final mortal sally to kill as many of the enemy before falling.

Several subsequent adaptions of the legend characterised her as a Hindu Rajput queen, who defended her honour against a Muslim invader. Over years, she came to be seen as a historical figure, and appeared in several novels, plays, television serials and movies. However, while Alauddin Khalji’s siege of Chittor in 1303 CE is a historical event, the legend of Padmini has little historical evidence and most modern historians have rejected its authenticity. Many of them believe it’s a poetry character.

Anyways, Padmavati is an epic period drama that is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The film features Deepika Padukone in the title role as Rani Padmavati, alongside Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji, with Aditi Rao Hydari and Jim Sarbh in supporting roles. Let’s see what would be the response to movie in cinema theatres.

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Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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