Do You Know Bajirao’s Mastani Well? We Did Some Digging For You
Mastani— a forgotten name buried in history books has acquired mainstream Bollywood cred thanks to Deepika Padukone, who is playing her in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani.
But what does history really have to say on Mastani? Turns out - history has two accounts.
Mastani is a Muslim courtesan who is the noted general Peshwa Bajirao (1700-1740) ’s mistress, and even bears him an illegitimate son, Shamsher Bahadur. The account goes on to add that their relationship caused much scandal to the Brahmin Chitpavan community, that the Peshwa was a part of. They blamed Mastani for Peshwa’s ill habits of drinking and meat eating, and never gave her any respect. After Bajirao died, Mastani too died out of suicide or shock, while some accounts say she committed sati by falling into his pyre.
The second account, however, says Mastani was the daughter of Maharaja Chattrasal, a Bundelkhand king and his Muslim concubine. According to the State University of New York Press, Mastani was married to Bajirao as part of a dola, much like Akbar married Jodha, when Bajirao helped the Bundel king in saving his kingdom from the Mughals. Mastani became the second wife of Peshwa Bajirao I, while he was still married to Kasibai, his first wife.
Now go to the theatre, informed!