Padmavati to Padmavat: Ram Puniyani on “Distortion” of History
If we’d have to guess, we’d say Sanjay Leela Bhansali has only one wish for the new year, for his film Padmavati to finally release! And now CBFC has passed the film with a ‘UA’ certification and suggested changing the title to Padmavat.
Bhansali’s film, reportedly modelled loosely on the story of Rani Padmini or Padmavati as she is also known, met with an outburst of protests and allegations, with several right-wing organisations claiming that he ‘distorted’ Rajput history.
But as author and public speaker, Ram Puniyani puts it — “What is there to distort? As per historical records, Rani Padmavati didn’t exist in the first place.”
Speaking to The Quint, Puniyani does address the controversy surrounding Bhansali’s Padmavati and the real history behind the mythical queen, but his focus lies on the re-telling of Rajput history and how it wasn’t as glorious, heroic and united as it has always been made out to be.
The unified power of Rajputs and Marathas was an illusion. This only emerged through the later period.Ram Puniyani
In terms of the Rajput kingdoms, he said, records state that several power-battles took place within the different clans and families itself, which negates the myth of them always having had a unified front.
As he mentions, history also records the existence of many political alliances that were formed between the Rajputs and the Mughals, dating back to the time when Babur, the first ruler of the Mughal dynasty, was invited to Delhi by Rana Sangha to rally against Ibrahim Lodi. Kings like Akbar also hosted the ‘navaratna’ or nine jewels in his court, out of whom several were Hindu. Several Rajput kings also placed Muslims in elevated ranks in the army and administration.
To Puniyani, the entire myth of different Rajput kingdoms standing together in unison to fight the ‘outsiders’ (the Mughals), was created on the prompting of British historiography, which had a focus-point on a Hindu-Muslim divide.
Also Read: So, Did Rani Padmavati Really Exist?
Puniyani also mentioned that some of the political alliances which were formed between the Rajputs and the Mughals, were cemented by marital relations. Rajput princesses would often marry into the Mughal royal family to strengthen the bond between the two kingdoms — case in point Akbar and Jodhaa Bai.
Hence, this contradicts the primary conflict in the Padmavati issue, where the protesting groups claimed that there was a love sequence between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji. The group’s leaders have claimed that other than a distortment of history, the movie presents itself as an insult to their Rajput memory, since a Hindu Rajput princess and a Muslim Mughal ruler could never be involved romantically.
We cannot look at the past through present prisms, where we think Hindus on one side and Muslims on one side.Ram Puniyani
Cameraperson: Sanjoy Deb
Video Editor: Kammaljiit Singh Kainth