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Ruckus Over Legend

Ruckus Over Legend

Queen Padmini was a literary creation done roughly 200 years after Alauddin Khalji died, according to historians. But as time passed by, she became the epitome of beauty, chastity, valour and sacrifice for some people in the Kshatriya community.

It may be common in several households in Rajasthan even today for people to narrate the story as history, of how Padmini, often referred to as Padmavati, sent her husband king and his valiant warriors to fight Khalji’s army when they laid siege on the Chittorgarh Fort. The Muslim invader ostensibly was attracted to the place after hearing about the queen’s beauty. The tale goes that Padmini led around 25,000 women to jauhar so that they could not be captured and raped by the Muslim invader and his army.Khalji could only find their ashes when he entered the fort.

The Indian film industry has made few films on Padmini and similar lore. Not all of them stuck to a particular script because there are many versions to any story. Also, there is something that is fashionably paraded as artistic licence. Now, this is something that has created problems for several writers, filmmakers and other artistes all over the world from time immemorial.

It can’t be said for sure whether at least some of them deliberately deviated from a popularly-held notion while telling a story just to make it controversial and famous. However, one can safely recommend this recipe to filmmakers and book publishers who are not willing to spend money on advertisement and publicity. Just give a controversial twist to the artistic creation and the third-rate sensational news channels will ensure that they and the book/film receives enough publicity to ensure success.

I am not even sure that Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film ‘Padmavati’ has anything to bust the popular myth but the provocation seems to be centred around the ‘Ghoomar’ song. I watched it and the film’s promo on YouTube but did not find a scene where Khalji and Padmini meet or where Khalji has a fantasy of Padmini or a dream sequence. But those who have threatened to cut off the heads of the director and Deepika Padukone, who plays Padmini,swear that the queen has been portrayed in poor light.

The Central Film Board of Certification is yet to view the movie. So, who spread the word that there are ‘controversial scenes’ in the movie? Who has made it a fight between traditional belief and artistic expression? We know the news channels have picked it up from somewhere, but where? There is no proof of the allegations in public domain. Is this a fixed match where all parties concerned — those associated with the movie, little known outfits and their leaders and news channels — would stand to gain?

There is a political angle too. TheBJP seems to have fielded its leaders in several capacities to reiterate that ‘Hindu culture is being insulted’. The Congress is hence in a dilemma, with only Thakur leader of Amethi, Sanjay Singh, sticking out his neck to threaten a stir. Shashi Tharoor —who represents Thiruvananthapuram and has defeated the ‘unofficial candidate’ of the erstwhile Travancore royal family in two Lok Sabha elections—meanwhile, had no hesitation in lampooning the valour of maharajas who are ready to go to war over a movie after “scurrying when the British ruled India.” The Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which not till long ago held the monopoly for wreaking havoc on films and test matches have,meanwhile, said it would form an opinion after watching the movie.

Bhansali has been known to be on the right side of the two parties and so their reactions were on expected lines. But their reactions seem to indicate that Bhansali is not enjoying the ‘publicity’ the movie seems to be getting.

Does that mean Bhansali never remembered the ‘limits he was not supposed to cross’ while making films to be shown in India? Is he unaware that we live in an age where the Prime Minister of the country tells doctors and surgeons in his formal address that Ganesha was proof of existence of plastic surgery in ancient India and Karna’s birth outside the womb indicated in-vitro fertilisation was as old as the Mahabharat?

Who’s Raga Composer?

The concert is yet to begin in Gujarat. What we see at present is the rehearsal without the main artiste in the auditorium. Gujarat elections have been tailored to suit Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official schedule, so that he gets almost a whole month to campaign after Himachal Pradesh polls and summits in the Far East. Even Parliament’s winter session has been put off for this purpose.

The close contest in Gujarat that those covering the polls have predicted may have not taken into account Modi’s performance in the next few weeks. He would make voters laugh, cry and enthralled while he sells his dreams to them, once again.

That said, there is no denying the fact that Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s campaign looks a lot different this time from his earlier ones since 2012. He seems to be making punchy and pithy lines to forcefully put across his party’s message to an audience that could only swoon by the mere mention of the word ‘Modi’ in the last 15 years.

While we had several write-ups on media managers and event managers like Prashant Kishor in the past, there is no report in the media on who has been guiding Gandhi in this stint. While the hand of traditional veterans is very visible in the way the Congress is trying to cobble up together an alliance, it is not clear who has been giving him those one-liners that have made big news.

Of course, Gandhi himself joked about it when he said that it was his dog, Pidi, who tweets on his behalf. Whoever the unsung hero, the person deserves kudos for phrases like ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ to counter BJP’s ‘Good and Simple Tax’.It has led to even the Union Government to hurriedly removing most items from the 28% tax bracket.But it remains to be seen if ‘Raga’ will go off key once the popstar arrives on stage.

Keep Walking!

Kerala has built a 4-storied building with 64 rooms in Palakkad’s Kanjikode for migrant workers. It has32 kitchens, 96 bathrooms, 8 dining halls, apart from space for washing, ironing and drying clothes. Each room has 10 bunk beds. This is the first venture under Apna Ghar to address residential problems of Kerala’s 25 lakh migrant labourers.Three more are planned in the state’s three biggest cities. Those building ‘Smart Cities’ may keep walking in the Smart State!

(abey.kay@gmail.com)

(Published on 20th November 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 47)