Monday December 10, 2018

Was Alauddin Khilji Really The “People’s” King?

Alauddin Khilji, the one who resisted Mongol invasion in India, was he a plunderer and killer?

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Some historians say Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavat did not do justice to the character of Alauddin Khilji, who apparently, was a good ruler.
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By Sagarneel Sinha

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmavat, which was earlier named as Padmavati has been in the news for the last few months. There are theories by some historians that Bhansali’s film is not doing justice with the character of Alauddin Khilji, the Delhi Sultan who was regarded as the most powerful ruler of the Khilji dynasty. They say that the film portrays Alauddin Khilji as a bad king who rather was a good administrator! To justify themselves they cite the example of Khilji defeating the Mongols invaders to India several times. And they say that Alauddin Khilji introduced new tax reforms for the well being of the people.

Alauddin Khilji was one of the most powerful rulers of the Khilji Dynasty. Wikimedia Commons
Alauddin Khilji was one of the most powerful rulers of the Khilji Dynasty. Wikimedia Commons

 

  • It is true that under the reign of Alauddin Khilji, several attempts of Mongol invasions were thwarted. But does this example give a proof of Alauddin Khilji being a good administrator? Absolutely not. It is very important to mention that Alauddin Khilji ascended to the throne of Delhi Sultanate by killing Jalaluddin Khilji, the then Delhi Sultan. Alauddin was the nephew and son-in-law of Jalaluddin and the latter used to love the former as his son. Despite his uncle’s love, Alauddin after pretending to greet his uncle killed him in 1296 AD, which shows the hunger for power. Alauddin did not even hesitate before killing his beloved uncle!

ALSO READ: ‘Padmavat’ producers move SC against the ban by some states 

Many historians and intellectuals of our country hail Alauddin as a “people’s ruler” and one of the “greatest ruler” to ever sit on the throne of Delhi. But if the writings of the then Muslim historian Amir Khusro’s are read, then one would come to know the true colors of Alauddin Khilji. It is to be mentioned that Khusro was the court poet in the Alauddin’s court and recorded Alauddin’s wars and administrative services. Many cite the presence of Hindu chiefs in Alauddin’s court as an example of his tolerance. But according to Khusro those Hindu chiefs who bowed their heads before Alauddin were only favored. So, it is very much clear that retaining Hindus as chiefs was not a sign of Khilji’s tolerance but was due to the fact that those Hindus had bowed before him!

There is also a debate whether Rani Padmavati is a historical character based on Khusro’s recordings of the 1303 AD Chittor conquest by Khilji. It is true that the name Padmavati doesn’t find its place in Khusro’s writings but he mentioned an important recording from the Chittor conquest. After Chittor was captured Khusro’s recordings say that Khilji ordered a massacre of 30,000 local Hindus. It is also said that Khilji married Hindu queen Kamala Devi of Vaghela and the relationship was more than above politics. However, truth is that she was captured by his army by defeating the Vaghela king Karna and later she had to marry Alauddin Khilji; it might be she had no option!

Tomb of Alauddin Khilji in Qutub Minar, Delhi. Wikimedia Commons
Tomb of Alauddin Khilji in Qutub Minar, Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

If historical records are checked properly, one would find Khilji’s numerous committed atrocities on the Hindus. His army plundered several Hindu towns. When his army attacked the kingdom of Vaghela, the Hindu towns including the famous Somnath Temple of Gujarat were plundered. In around 1299/1300 AD there was a mutiny near Delhi by some of the Mongol soldiers, after the generals forcibly tried to extract a loot from them. In result of this, Alauddin’s administration not only brutally punished the soldiers but also punished the mutineers’ families, including killings of children in front of their mothers. According to Muslim historian Ziauddin Barani, the practice of punishing wives and children for the crimes of men started with this incident in Delhi. The so-called “good” ruler Alauddin as according to contemporary Persian historian Wassaf, was that the Sultan was motivated by religious enthusiasm and his army massacred people for the sake of Islam.

(Wassaf said this while describing Alauddin’s 1299 AD Gujarat campaign).

Alauddin and his generals destroyed several Hindu temples during their military campaigns. These temples, other than Somnath included that of Bhilsa, Devagiri, Vijapur, Jhain, Chidambaram, and Madurai. There are many records of loot committed by Khilji’s generals and his army. Under the most trusted general of Alauddin Khilji, Malik Kafur, the Delhi army looted a large number of treasures, elephants and horses from Dwarasamudra and Pandya kingdom, which Ziauddin Barani described as the greatest loot since the Muslim rule in Delhi!

The coins that were in circulation under the Khilji dynasty. Wikimedia Commons
The coins that were in circulation under the Khilji dynasty. Wikimedia Commons

ALSO READ: Everything You Needs To Know About The Ban On ‘Padmaavat’ Movie and It’s Review

After checking the historical records, nowhere it is found that Alauddin was a “good” ruler! The so-called “people’s king” and his army is recorded for committing plunder in the history that also by the then Muslim historians! It is said that he introduced tax reforms in this country. Obviously, he did start large-scale reforms. But if Ziauddin Barani and Amir Khusro’s records are checked, then one would come to know that the new reforms introduced were mainly due to Sultan’s desire for targeting the Hindus by depriving them of their wealth and property. The Sultan’s land tax called Kharaj allowed extraction of the peasants’ surplus amount by the ruling class. These records contradict the fact that the reforms were introduced for the well-being of the people! Most importantly Alauddin was not the first ruler to introduce tax system in this country! Around 1500 years before his reign, Arthashastra, the book which deals with government, economics, market, trade, laws, and ethics were written by a scholar named Chanakya. The book was not only influential in Indian history but also in the Asian history. Most importantly the book talks about a fair tax system which should be convenient and easy to pay and also the text states that the King and his administration should ensure security and welfare for the people. All these contradict with Alauddin and his administration.If Mongols were known for their cruelty then Alauddin Khilji was not less than Mongols, where the latter was a destroyer of people’s wealth and property. Alauddin Khilji was never a “good” or “people’s” ruler as glorified by some historians and intellectuals of our country!

The writer lives in Tripura, India. Twitter @SagarneelSinha

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Bollywood 2018: 10 Blockbuster Movies Of First Half Of The Year

Here are 10 movies of 2018 that made their mark in the industry

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Bollywood 2018: 10 Blockbuster Movies Of First Half Of The Year
Bollywood 2018: 10 Blockbuster Movies Of First Half Of The Year. flickr

Half of 2018 has passed and if we look back, we had a pretty decent year in terms of Bollywood movies. Many much awaited movies were released in the first half of the year and it’s time to review the year so far.  It’s the end of June and fans were waiting for the much-awaited Sanjay Dutt biopic which released this week. The movie created a lot of buzz before its release due to the actor-director duo and due to the fact that people will get to know about Sanjay Dutt’s life, covering everything from his childhood to the time he spent in jail and beyond. The combination of Rajkumar Hirani and Ranbir Kapoor worked like a dream. At the box office, despite not being a ‘typical Rajkumar Hirani family entertainer’, ‘Sanju’ will score tremendously and emerge as a Monstrous Hit! Don’t miss it!

Here are 10 movies of 2018 that made their mark in the industry:

Padmaavat: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film ‘Padmaavat’ may have had a number of roadblocks leading up to its highly anticipated release, but there was no stopping it as it charged on at the box office. It earned an estimated Rs 284 crore net at the domestic box office. Deepika Padukone , Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh brought grandeur  and irresistible sensual appeal  to the film. Audience was impressed by its dazzling visuals and Bhansali’s composed and executed musical numbers.

Padman: PadMan was based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who invented low-cost sanitary pad making machine and raised awareness about sanitary health among rural India. The film, starring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor, made approx. Rs. 78 crore. It was directed by R Balki and produced by Twinkle Khanna. Audience lauded Akshay’s performance and appreciated the makers’ bold take on a rather hush-hush subject.

Akshay Kumar in and as the Padman.
Akshay Kumar in and as the Padman. Flickr

Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety: Directed by Luv Ranjan of Pyaar Ka Punchnaam fame, the film earned Rs 107.81 crore and made its mark in the list of highest grossing films of the year. Starring Sunny Singh, Nushrat Bharucha and Kartik Aaryan, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety opened to mixed reviews and was mainly slammed for a sexist approach. The film’s collections, however, grew on word-of-mouth and it became the first sleeper hit of the year.

Raid: Raid is a film that caters to public sentiment against black money and corruption. Ajay Devgn starrer opened to mixed reviews while Ajay and Saraubh Shukla received wide acclaim for their performances. The film collected Rs  100.05 crore, ultimately became a box office hit.

Bhaagi 2: The Tiger Shroff-Disha Patani-starrer Baaghi 2,directed by Ahmed Khan, was a sequel to Tiger’s 2016 hit film Baaghi that starred Tiger and Shraddha Kapoor in the lead roles. The film was inspired by Tamil film Kshanam. It was a superhit on box-office by earning an estimate of Rs 159 crore. The power packed action was loved by the audience.

102 Not Out: Director Umesh Shukla’s ‘102 Not Out’ was a slice-of-life film starring Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor in the lead roles. The veterans impressed everyone with their performances and the result was clearly visible at the box office. The total collection of the film stands at Rs 49.9 crore.

Raazi: Set against the backdrop of the Indo-Pak war in 1971, an Indian girl marries a Pakistani Army officer to spy for her country. Based on Harinder Sikka’s book Calling Sehmat, Raazi is an account of the life of Indian agents at that time. Unlike other ‘spy’ films, Razzi refrains from being loud or jingoistic. The Dharma Productions’ film collected Rs 120.90 crore and Alia Bhatt once again gave an outstanding performance as the lead.

Q. "Raazi" is your first political film. And you play a selfless woman ready to die for her country. Do such people really exist anymore?
Alia Bhatt, wikimedia commons

Parmanu: The movie tells the story of how India decided to become a nuclear state and about the people who made it possible. This John Abraham starrer made a mark at the box-office and collected Rs 63.68 crore, becoming his highest solo grosser. Actress Diana Penty was seen alongside John in the lead role.

Veere Di Wedding: The movie was about free-wheeling womanhood, a story of four friends, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Swara Bhaskar, Shikha Talsania. How they deal with love, marriage and heartbreak in their own unique ways. It was a box-office hit, it earned around Rs 69 crore.

Race 3: Though Salman Khan starrer was not liked by the public but the movie collected Rs 169 Crore. Race 3 failed to impress the audience but before the release of movie it was declared as super hit, but the movie tanked and people didn’t find Salman Khan charming in the film which used to be in his other films. Now, Race 3 has joined the league of lowest rated films of the world rated by IMDB.

Also read: BBC’s “Bollywood’s Dark Secret” speaks nothing

Though movies like Hichki, Beyond The Clouds, Omerta, Blackmail did not earn much but were highly liked by the audience. People have great expectations from movies like Kedarnath, Simmba, Dhadak, Gold and Zero which are yet to come. (IANS)