The huge controversy created by the to be released Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed opulent magnum opus “Padmavati” starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh has thankfully died down. And so, the question that crops up in my ever curious mind is, What exactly is the story of Queen Padmavati, and why have there been violent reactions to this movie made on this Rajasthani queen’s life? The answer to my curiosity apparently lies in an epic poem written in the year 1540 by a Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi known as “Padmavat” (the source used by Bhansali as well) which is considered to be an extremely important literary work in Sufi literature. Now, it is only by using this poem as a source that a few essential facts about the story revolving around this queen can be explained. These facts are as follows:
1. Padmavati, and the “Parrot” connection:
“Hiraman” was the name of a “talking parrot” according to the Padmavat, who was a friend of princess Padmavati. However, it is said that the father of the princess of the Singhal Kingdom did not like this friendship, and hence attempted to kill it. Miraculously managing to escape death this parrot is supposed to have been captured by a bird catcher, and was eventually is taken in as a pet by Ratansen, the ruler of Chittor. It was Hiraman who then described the beauty of Padmavati to King Ratansen. It was this description that compelled Ratansen to visit the Singhal Kingdom with parrot serving as the guide and an army of about 16,000 in order to marry Padmavati.
2. The “marriage” of Ratansen and Padmavati:
It was on arriving in Singhal that King Ratansen attempted to win over Padmvati’s affection by performing penance in a temple, and thereby compelling the Gods to fulfill his desire. On the other hand Hiraman informed Padmavati about Ratansen’s efforts to win over her heart. And so, she decides to visit the temple. However, she unfortunately does not manage to obtain a glimpse of the king. Now, by this time Padmavati had already begun to fall in love with Ratansen. In fact, the king of Chittor also contemplates committing suicide since he is unable to find her. It was at this delicate juncture that Lord Shiva advised him to attack the Singhal fortress. Acting on this advice Ratansen and his army attacked the fortress with full zest, but unfortunately gets captured by Gandharvsen, the father of Padmavati. It is then simply due to the fact that Ratansen is the “King of Chittor” that Gandharvsen decides to marry his daughter to this king.
3. The curious case of “Alauddin Khaliji” and his fascination for Padmavati:
It so happened that one day a courtier in Ratansen’s court named Raghav was caught red handed using unfair means to win a contest. It is therefore due to this fraud committed that the courtier was thrown out from the court by the king. Now, Raghav traveled to Delhi and met with the then ruler of Delhi Sultanate Alauddin Khaliji belonging to the “Khaliji Dynasty”. During the meeting the courtier described the beauty of Padmavati in depth to Alauddin. It is after listening to this detailed description that this “Sultan of Delhi” gradually became infatuated by the beauty of Padmavati. In fact, he became so besotted by her that he along with his army attacked Chittor. Having completely gained control over Ratansen he demanded that Padmavati be gifted to him. This demand was totally rejected by the King of Chittor, and he offered a tribute instead. However, Khaliji did not accept it and continued applying pressure on Ratansen . It is at this time on the advice from Gora and Badal (councilors) that Ratansen invited Alauddin inside the Chittor Fort. While in the fort Khaliji is apparently said to have had a glimpse of Padmavati in a rather deceitful manner. Moreover, it was also at this fort that Alauddin managed to imprison Ratansen and take him back to Delhi.
4. The “Jauhar/Sati” committed by Padmavati:
It was while Ratansen was imprisoned in Delhi by Khaliji that the “King of Kumbalgarh” infatuated by Padmavati proposes to marry her. However, the “King of Chittor” escapes imprisonment with the help of Gora and Badal. On arriving home, Ratansen is given the news of the marriage proposal put forth by Devpal (King of Kumbalgarh). Feeling insulted and enraged he decides to fight Devpal. It is thus during this battle that Ratansen and the King of Kumbalgarh kill each other. It is at this time that Alauddin returned once again with his army to attack Chittor. With Khaliji and his army at the doorstep, Padmavati is left with no choice but to commit sati (self immolation). And so, she and Ratansen’s first wife Nagmati commit “sati” on the pyre of their husband while, the remaining women in the Chittor Fort end up committing jauhar (mass self immolation).
Having analyzed it in depth, it would be fair to state that “Padmavat” does seem to be an intriguing story that combines little facts with lots of fiction, and hence I hope that this movie is released peacefully, considering it is only a work “art” and not “politics”.
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