Here’s how Bhansali was made a scapegoat by an ill-informed society

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been at the receiving end of attacks by fringe groups ever since the shoot of his upcoming film ‘Padmavati’ commenced this year. The filmmaker was assaulted back in January in Jaipur and again in March when the film set in Kolhapur was torched to ashes.

The group claims distortion of historical facts in the movie which is based on Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic poem ‘Padmavat’. The story revolves around Padmini, wife of the ruler of Mewar, Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, and Alauddin Khilji, second ruler of the Khilji dynasty who had invaded Chittor.

According to the fringe group, Bhansali’s film script has distorted history by showing Padmini involved in a romantic relationship with Khilji, despite statements from the CEO of Bhansali films and Bhansali himself arguing to the contrary.

In this regard it must be stated that there is a cloud of uncertainty about whether Rani Padmini is a historical figure or a fictional character. There is not much historical evidence on her or her alleged sacrifice which can lend itself to distortion, as claimed by the fringe groups.

Jayasi wrote the poem ‘Padmavat’ almost two centuries after Chittor was invaded by Khilji, representing a fictionalised version of the invasion. In the epic, Khilji, mesmerised by Padmini’s beauty, invades Chittor in order to obtain her.

Jayasi depicted Padmini as the perfect woman, who chose death over submission to the lustful enemies, and along with other Rajput women, performed ‘Jauhar’ or self-immolation in order to save their honour. However, according to historians, Jayasi’s poem cannot serve as a historical document. The poem is allegorical in nature wherein Chittor stands for body, Padmini stands for wisdom and Khilji for lust. They do concede that Khilji had invaded Chittor, yet, nothing has been recorded in history regarding the ‘Jauhar’ performed by Padmini as portrayed in the poem. The historians, further go on to say, that the character of Rani Padmini is at best, a legendary figure. A legend is a traditional story, sometimes popularly regarded as historical, but not authenticated.

Therefore, it can be safely concluded that since Bhansali’s script is inspired by the poem discussed above, he cannot be held guilty of distortion of historical facts simply because there is little or no historical documentation of Rani Padmini.

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