Monday, 29 January 2018

‘Padmavat’ - an inconvenient truth that it exposes….’


(#padmavat ; #padmavati )

And finally came ‘Padmavat’ the movie ….. released amid all the protests, positive and negative media covergaes, security concerns, focus on censor board and the courts ….it also triggered vigourous debates on the social media. Finally came the relaese of the movie under an altered name ‘Padmavat’ what was originally ‘Padmavati’.

In spite of the riots and protests, the movie continues to post a staggering Box Office earning. The movie itself will leave an impact on the younger generations as to how they remember these historical stories.

Some historical topics and stories are handed down through generations as a matter  of ‘clanish’ pride and some are handed down as a matter of shear inspiration … and it’s a norm that one doesn’t disturb the sentiments of the clans by challenging the tone of the stories handed down. Also it is commonly expected that one doesn’t glamourise the figures in these stories that command an untold sanctity in the hearts of the clan members.

However on the other hand, those who consider themselves as liberal, progressive etc. quote various laws and rights and do not hesitate to disturb people's sentiments and make their own business in name of providing ‘entertainment’ about these stories. This opportunism itself at times – almost un-intendedly - exposes some inconvenient facts. ‘Padmatvat’ movie seems to have done just that.

The first test of the people’s pulse was when the movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’ was released. It did  hurt the feelings of those who traditionally looked at Bajirao.1, Mastani and their Knights and Armies as extremely brave people. The movie depicted them as mere entertaining romantic cinema figures. It didn’t cause much disturbance as much as ‘Padmavati’ / ‘Padmavat’ did. It was probably because most of the public and new generation are oblivious to the valour of Bajirao.1 and looks at him through the caste and clan based attitudes seeded over the years in their minds.

Padmavati / Padmavat by contrast challenged the sanctity held in the hearts by millions of the clan as well as other public in general. Their feelings were based on the story as taught in the context of bravery and fight against the evil invaders.

Even I was angry at the sight of the movie-poster that I saw first time – wondering why this rather humiliating story was being made as if to cause anger in the minds of the millions of ordinary Indians like me …

So, I also had decided never to watch this movie  that in my opinion (without seeing the movie..) was exploiting the Indian history for their own commercial gains... but this opinion was to change soon !

But then my highly balanced and academically scholar minded son unbiasedly watched the movie in Australia – Melbourne and shared his unbiased views. At home my wife maintained a very pragmatic dialogue thus leaving me no choice but to watch the movie last night !

It was a challenge for me to go and watch the movie in which an Indian King was getting defeated by lust blinded Khilji. I finally went through the ordeal watching the plots in the story as well as the last scenes of Johar – the self scrifices of the Queen and her fellow women to save themselves from falling in the hands of the invaders who came for them.

After the movie we always have a detailed post movie discussions at home and with our son in Melbourne. The discussion had all the voices – for the praise of the perfomance, for the story depiction and the tone of the movie in general – and suddenly I got the answer I was seeking from my wife when she said something matter of factly while doing the household chores !!  She asked if this whole story would have been avoided at all ..??? ….what  if all the other Kings and knights in the area were to accept the King’s call and come for a united defence against the invasion of evilish Khilji charcter showed in the movie.

I remembered the story of the Great Chatrapati Shivaji calling for such a defence formation with a host of  Kings who were serving the Mughals Sultanate then – almost 400 years after the story time line of Padmavat. But they declined and in fact attacked Shivaji on behalf of the Moghals !! almost 20 years later the Peshwas faced it yet again and the colonial era began…

Even without any religious or clanish bias the movie is difficult to watch as an Indian. It is hard to watch that the force of evil & mindless unleashing of lust, cruenlty and greed unethical plundering a peacefully living kingdom and violating the decency of Indian women by salivating invaders who as per the stories told kept no bars held in their atrocities against the peacefully living multi cultural and multi religious peoples of India.  

Though not mentioned in this movie, we do come across some history related write ups telling how the Chola King of the South India used to help the smaller kingdoms in the north west against the Central Asian and Moghal invaders.  Apparently when the Cholas remained engaged in the South East Asia these smaller kingdoms fell and accepted subordination of the Khilji like invaders and pluderers. Except may be for a few cases, these smaller kingdoms did not help each other to fight together as it also appears clearly from the movie Padmavat . And this is the inconvenient truth we learn from the movie Padmavat. This did not seem to bother anyone before the release of the movie – at least in the media reports I saw.

Declining to help each other due to the fear of the shear brutality of the Khilji like invaders those non-helping-kings let the brave men and women of  Chittod fall and perish.

The accuracies of the historical stories can always be debated, but the story of Padmavat movie has exposed this fault line in the pre-Mughal and pre-Colonial era Indian collective defences.

Looking at the recent divisive riots and protests one can say that even today these fault lines continue to be exploited for the sake of power and greed …
The Bollywood movies make strong impact on the Indian public in general. Padmavat should succeed in urging Indians to get over the divisive communal and caste based differences and be ONE People and ONE strong nation of mutual help and understanding !

That will be the best tribute to the sacrifices of the (probably fictitious) warrior Queen Padmavati, her King husband, their Brave soldiers and the people portrayed in the movie !!

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  1. xactly fully agreed dat ppl in today’s world shud keep aside caste biased mentality n come together helping eachother to come forward and help in growing as a nation 👍👏🙏