Padmavati or Queen Padmini of Chittor.

The controversy that’s been raging in India for a whole month lit a fire under me and made me find this portrait of Queen Padmini or Padmavati from my archives.

The lore tells us of a beautiful Srilankan princess who crossed the Indian ocean to be with her husband and beloved Ratansen, the king of Chittor.

Recently, a Bollywood period-drama based on the life of Queen Padmavati found itself in choppy waters, presumably for tinkering with history. The movie, say those who claim that their sentiments were hurt, shows the queen dancing. A queen who tread such high moral ground that she not just immolated herself but led all other women of Chittor into the funeral pyre to ensure they died with their dignity intact, couldn’t stoop so low as to dance. They are also of the opinion that the movie shows some romantic moments between that creepy invader Khilji and Queen Padmavati, which the producers say, actually show Khilji fantasizing about the queen.

There are too many moot points.

  • Whether or not there was actually a queen called Padmini who was actually a Sinhalese princess the tales of whose beauty had driven Ratansen to cross the ocean and go to Sri Lanka to marry her and bring her back?
  • Who is right? The movie-makers or the movie-attackers?
  • Why we still hear of nose-chopping and head-lopping as the right way to set matters of honor straight?
  • How the freedom of artistic expression be curbed “slowly?”

I’m sure the list is longer than my tired brain can produce.

Queen Padmini Padmavati portrait of her reflection in mirror - Alauddin Khilji's attack on Chittor.

A Portrait from the Mists of Time – Queen Padmini of Chittor (Size: 18″ x 22″, Medium: Graphite Relief Work, Copyright 2004, All Rights Reserved.

Actually, upon reading the stories, I do believe that they are more fantastical than historical. (A question that keeps perplexing me is what happened to the children of the women who immolated themselves? There’s no mention of children anywhere. In the days of the yore, I’m sure that in the absence of any birth-control measures, children were aplenty.  Silly question, I know. Yet, I’d like to know how they were whisked away from a fort that lay under siege for so long that people had begun to starve.)

Anyway, the long and short of the Padmavati story is that eventually the dust would settle. The movie-makers will find a way not only to salvage their 300 Cr. investment but also to make it bear fruit. It’s only a matter of time.

In the meantime, lose yourself in the lore of Padmini.

Advertisements