Millennium Post

Clash with history

In the recent weeks, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's upcoming film Padmavati, starring Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor, has been hogging everyone's attention and therefore, the dutiful media's headlines, as several voices of dissent have spoken against the unabashed misinterpretation of history, as has been gauged from the trailer of the movie scheduled to release on December 1. First things first, being the king of opulence, Bhansali has left no stone unturned to ensure that this movie is a visual delight. Aside from cinematography and the crores spent on the lavish design of sets and costumes for the actors, the storyline of the film seems to have been severely skewed to suit commercial sensibilities of the average movie-goer. However, Bhansali missed taking into account the sensibilities of those who are sensitive to Padmavati's history—a valiant Queen who did not succumb to defeat and instead chose self-immolation. The trailer indicates possibilities of Padmavati, played by Padukone, eventually romancing Khilji, played by Ranveer Singh, on the screen. Laughable, at least, given that history had unfurled in exactly the opposite direction.

People have also expressed outrage at Padukone's performance of Ghoomar, claiming that a queen did not embrace performances; her position was far more venerable. Fair enough, but, given the average India's affinity towards loud exhibitive performances—Deepika's dance could be excused under the garb of artistic license. The more problematic premise is actually the possibility of Padmavati's intimacy with Khilji, if that has been portrayed. Bhansali declines this by emphasising that there are no objectionable scenes between Padukone and Singh. Nevertheless, going by trailer, if such a storyline is adopted, it would defeat the idea of remaking Padmavati's history. Essentially because, her character has been inflated in history because of her devotion to the Rajputs, her sense of dignity and sacrifice—and if that is sent for a toss, then the point of calling the story Padamavati, doesn't resonate. It might as well have been the story of a fictitious queen, not inspired by any specific Rajput history. It is often difficult to draw a line between fact and artistic fiction, as seems to be plaguing Bhansali. He also seems to be stuck in a battle of depicting opulence—whether in cinematography or narrative—while building on the intensity of character. Therefore, the grandeur of Padmavati's set clashes with an attempt to further valorise Padmavati's story. But, in the quest of making a successfully opulent film, minting enough monetary returns and also adequately sensationalising the characters to make them icons, did Bhansali give the sanctity of knowledge a toss?

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