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Padmavati controversy has actually united Hindus across all castes
How much do we know about our history? Probably not much, and whatever we know, may not be completely correct.

History is written by winners or by the order of those in power, and hence, there is every possibility of history being compromised. I had grown up adoring Gandhi and Nehru and considered them as the only reasons why we got our independence. However, now I know that I was taught manipulated history, as so many other facts are getting unearthed about our freedom struggle which make Gandhi and Nehru seem like guest actors in a full-fledged feature film.

Regarding Padmavati, the same logic holds good. One may not know whether she was the queen of Chittor committing jauhar along with 16000 other women to prevent violation by Khilji and his barbaric Muslim soldiers or she was just a piece of imagination by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in his famous poem titled 'Padmavat'.

Jayasi wrote the poem during Babar's era (1540 CE), more than 200 years after the Khilji era and was the first instance of the appearance of the legend of Padmavati in written texts. Later, in 1589, Hemratan's 'Gora Badal Padmini Chaupai' surfaced which gave a detailed account of the legend of Padmini.

Alauddin Khilji's siege of Chittor is a historical event of 1306 CE. Although, the legend of Padmini is the best known story about the siege, its historical basis is not that strong. Interestingly, historian Amir Khusrow, who accompanied Khilji during the Chittor siege, did not mention anything about Padmini or the jauhar, although, some scholars suggest that he made a veiled reference to Padmini in his prose 'Khazain ul-Futuh' where he makes a mention of Solomon, hudhud and Bilkis which more or less matched with the story in the poem Jayasi wrote two centuries later.

The British writer James Tod, Ireland-born Sister Nivedita, Abanindranath Tagore in 'Rajkahini' and Jawaharlal Nehru in 'The Discovery of India' mention Padmini as a historical figure associated with the siege of Chittor. In the 19th century, during the Swadeshi Movement, Padmini became a symbol of Indian patriotism. Indian nationalist writers portrayed her story as an example of heroic sacrifice.

Time passed on and by the 20th century, Padmini was revered by Rajputs as someone who exemplified Rajput womanhood. She became a symbol of valour and sacrifice in Rajput history. Hindu activists have characterized her as a chaste Hindu woman, and her suicide as a heroic act of resistance against the invader Khilji. Queen Padmavati has remained a source of inspiration for many having sensitive attachment to Rajput pride and honour even now.

So naturally, if a Bollywood film is made on Padmavati and that also by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who likes to twist history, there has to be chaos. Bollywood is known for its anti-Hindu approach and the reason is not difficult to understand. After the murder of Gulshan Kumar, hardly any films were made on Hindu Gods, Hindu rituals, Hindu traditions or Hindu celebrations. It is an open secret that Bollywood is controlled by the underworld and its boss in Dubai or Karachi. Most filmmakers make films to mock anything related to Hindus because Hindus are soft targets and they lack the guts to make films mocking other religions fearing backlash.

First a rumour (it could be fact as well) went viral that there was a dream love sequence between Khilji and Padmavati, and naturally, it irked the Rajputs who literally worship the legendary queen. The film's sets were vandalized and Bhansali was beaten up. The chaos stopped only when SLB convinced the Rajputs that there was no such dream love sequence nor he was planning anything like that. Rajput organizations led by Karni Sena demanded the script which was never shown to them.

Then, the trailer of the song Ghoomer was released. It is to be noted that Ghoomer is a traditional sacred dance in Rajput culture and no part of the woman's body should be visible. But in the trailer, you can see the queen leading the dance exposing parts of her body. Although, Bhansali never gives importance to tradition in the name of freedom of expression or creative thinking, however, here he crossed the limit. Protests started from Chittor and spread to most parts of India in the apprehension that Bhansali had manipulated history to show Rajputs in poor light.

Deepika Padukone, who plays the role of Padmavati in the film, made the situation worse by labelling the Indian population as regressive. She should have understood that she is no role model, but a paid actress. This worked as a fuel to the already burning fire. The protesters threatened of chopping off her nose and a bounty was announced on her head. The producers of the film got equal or more dangerous threats.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali did another blunder by showing the movie to a bunch of journalists including Arnab Goswami and Rajat Sharma even before CBFC certification had been issued. Although, there is no such rule against this, but why journalists should be shown a movie? Was it for publicity or to douse the protests?

However, both Rajat Sharma and Arnab Goswami mentioned unequivocally that that there was nothing wrong in the movie and Padmavati / Rajput pride was brilliantly upheld rather than being ridiculed. But, it was barely enough to quell the Rajput anger. I am also surprised how journalists can give clean chit to a film which is seemingly hurting the sentiments of a large section of the society!

Karni Sena, the leader of the protests, has demanded to see the movie before its release which SLB has not complied with yet. I don't see any reason why he shouldn't do it to put an end to all protests.

The present status is that there are protests everywhere, the initial due date of release, December 1, has been postponed, and no new release date has been announced. Both Deepika and Bhansali are under heavy security cover as everyday a new threat is announced. Moreover, the film has been banned in states like Rajasthan, UP and Madhya Pradesh, unless it passes the scrutiny of Rajput organizations. CBFC had returned the movie on technical grounds. Hence, complete chaos continues to prevail.

Bhansali's supporters say that such furore is not justified for just a film, as accuracy of history was never questioned in films like Mughal-e-Azam or Jodha Akbar, then why for Padmavati? My answer to them is that Padmavati is worshipped like a goddess by a section of society and her stature is way above Anarkali's or Jodha's or Akbar's or Jehangir's. Padmavati is a living inspiration and thus, her image cannot be compromised.

If Bhansali was merely seeking publicity, he got it. The film may finally be released after due diligence and end up making at least Rs 300 crore or more, but the fact remains, no Bollywood filmmaker will ever try to malign Hindus in their fictions in future. This is surely a plus despite the chaos.

Some people say that the protest is going overboard and the fringe elements have no business in creating ruckus. My answer to those pseudo-intellectuals is that fringe elements are there in all religions. Try making a film on Prophet Mohammad's life or some controversial Islamic traditions; you will understand what fringe elements can do. When sentiments are hurt, people from all religions do protests, sometimes even violent. Calling them fringe is actually showing a negative mindset. Also, double standards prevailing in such cases must be condemned. All sentiments, of Hindus or Muslims or otherwise, have equal value, period.

I do not support any physical abuse or threatening. But sometimes, one has to say that enough is enough. Bollywood filmmakers should understand that Hindus will no more tolerate any manipulation that shows them in poor light.

The row over Padmavati has achieved one good thing that it has united the Hindus across all castes which spells well for the nation. It is election time in Gujarat and definitely, any party sympathetic to Hindus will reap the benefits from 'the Padmavati controversy'.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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