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‘Don’t mask ‘masala’ as history’ says Mewar Royal on Padmavati

The upcoming movie Padmavati is surrounded by controversies. This time its Mewar Royal commenting on the movie's theme.

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Padmavati movie shot
Padmavati movie shot. Instagram

New Delhi: The drama and debates over Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s Padmavati — the story of Rajput queen Padmini — has upset a direct descendant of the Mewar royal family. Baijiraj Trivikrama Kumari Jamwal, daughter of Mahendra Singh Mewar — the 76th Maharana of the Mewar dynasty and a former Lok Sabha member — is otherwise quietly going about her life as an English teacher at a school here.

But amidst heightened protests against Padmavati, which she has tagged an “inauthentic venture”, Trivikrama says it’s unfair that her family’s name is being dragged into generating “free publicity” for the film. “The sad part is that the film is getting free pre-release publicity and that a commercial and inauthentic venture like this is using my family’s name.

“It’s not just a question of incorrect portrayal, which is established from the trailer and the ‘Ghoomar’ song itself, but also the fact that you’re using my family’s name for the commercial pre-release publicity of your film, free of cost… And the national media is talking about it. That’s my problem,” Trivikrama told IANS in an interview here.

Bhansali’s Padmavati has been mired in controversy. The conjecture that it distorts history has led organizations like Shri Rajput Karni Sena and Sarv Brahmin Mahasabha to go up in arms against the release of the movie, while BJP leaders have been making statements and appeal to stop its release on December 1.

“That’s why I am so upset. People have political and commercial agendas. There’s nothing wrong with commercial enterprises and politics, but misusing and exploiting somebody’s pride, honor and dignity for such shallow purposes, that is where I step in and say, ‘Sorry, not acceptable’,” Trivikrama said.

The makers have maintained there is no dream romance sequence shown between the Rajput queen and invader Alauddin Khilji, as had been alleged by some. But a few political leaders and Jaipur’s former princess Diya Kumari have suggested Bhansali must show the movie to some historians prior to its release.

Trivikrama questions: “It depends on who the historians are because history is also colored. It has to be a well-represented congress of historians. He (Bhansali) should approach the most authentic voice, which is the family itself. That he hasn’t done.”

Her mother, Maharani Nirupama Kumari commented: “He has already made the film. What’s the point of showing it to historians now?”

To many, the story of Rani Padmini remains a mystery. What is the story Trivikrama has grown up with?

“If you go as a tourist to Chittorgarh Fort, you’re taken to Padmini’s Palace, and you’re shown a couple of mirrors. The tourist guide tells you about it and he points out a little pond and says she stood over there and Alauddin Khilji saw her face.

“But that is just packaging culture to sell to ignorant tourists,” she said.

Trivikrama said Rani Padmini finds a mention in “Veer Vinod”, a record book on Mewar’s history.

“It’s a historical record that shows yes she was there, she was the wife of Rawal Ratan Singh and she was only an excuse that Alauddin Khilji used to invade Chittor. The real reason was a very calculated military decision to invade,” she said.

“Padmini was not in the picture at all, except now what has been made into a tale, which is a figment of the imagination, I believe. It’s not there in history,” she said, pointing out that their family is one of the oldest families with an unbroken succession.

She estimated that there were over 30 generations between now and the first Jauhar — self-immolation led by Rani Padmini in 1303 during the siege of Chittor

What about the epic Awadhi poem Padmavati?

“Apparently, it’s a self-confessed piece of fiction. I’m ready to accept that you (Bhansali) have made a piece of fiction. But then don’t drag my family’s name into it and claim you’re the custodian of my family’s history,” asserted Trivikrama, a Ph.D. in English literature.

She said filmmakers are doing a lot in the garb of artistic license.

“Sure you have that, but then along with the artistic license, there should be artistic integrity and sensitivity,” she said, pointing out how the representation of Rani Padmini is “wrong” even in terms of dance and clothes.

“Instead of making it clear that it is Bollywood masala, you’re saying it is history and misleading and ‘miseducating’ the future generations.”(IANS)

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Here’s why Bollywood Films Don’t Win Oscars

Find out why good films do not get more screen time

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Bollywood
Bollywood is arguably one of India's most well-known brands globally. Pixabay

BY AMIT KHANNA

There’s no denying that cinema, especially Hindi cinema, has tremendous influence on contemporary Indian culture. Bollywood is arguably one of India’s most well-known brands globally. Having spent five decades in showbiz, I am often asked some common questions at various forums — international conferences, social media and familial get-togethers. Let me try and answer a few of these questions. This is the latest bollywood news.

Why do Bollywood films not win Oscars? First, we must understand Academy Award, the official name of Oscar is an award given by a few thousand (7,000-odd) members of American Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Only recently, a couple of non-American artistes and a few technicians have been included in the voters’ list of the academy. We must remember until China emerged for a select number of Hollywood films, 70 per cent of the revenue of a Hollywood film came from their domestic market. Hence, all awards and promotions were largely US centric.

Academy members, bulk of whom were retired artistes and technicians, were largely ignorant of global cinema. Condescendingly they gave out one award for best foreign film every year. A lot of canvassing and trade marketing and PR happens before nominations and winners are announced. Indian filmmakers don’t have either adequate skill or money for this promotion.

Besides, there is no substantive financial fallout by winning this award. For some it’s a mere ego massage. At the end of the day, I don’t see much difference between a Filmfare award and an Oscar. As neither impact the box office returns of a film and both involve a lot of lobbying and PR. Oscars and similar awards cannot even ensure the people involved get work because of these awards. Of late, our media has gone on a hyperdrive every award season, egged on by an equally ignorant bunch of social media ninjas.

Bollywood
Bollywood filmmakers don’t have either adequate skill or money for promoting their films to have them nominated for Academy Awards. Pixabay

Today, almost every organization from your neighborhood club to leading media houses run dozens of award shows where the only criterion for such awards is either to attract TV audiences or sell advertising. In most cases, strange categories of awards are created to “honour” every and anyone who attracts eyeballs. Many get paid to receive awards in person or at least some assured media coverage in lieu of being honoured. Our insecure creative fraternity collects these poorly designed trophies by the bagful, some TV media coverage and indulge in some mutual back slapping at these made-for TV shows and the accompanying red carpet and after parties, often in borrowed outfits.

Some organizations like IIFA and IFA are actually running a thriving business on the basis of these shows and awards. Similarly, while dozens of Indian films are screened in film festivals regularly, few win prizes at major festivals like Cannes or Berlin. The reasons are again akin to the Indian performance at the Oscars. Since there is hardly any economic payback (except an occasional Lunchbox or two) not enough time and effort are invested in the festival circuit. There is very little government support in this regard. If some younger filmmakers are carving a niche for themselves, it is only their talent and spunk which is responsible for their success. Media and audiences confuse red carpet appearances with a festival presence. The same set of half a dozen critics keep writing their obscure columns read only by few filmmakers and cineastes.

Another question I am often asked is why don’t ‘good’ films get screen time or are not even released in many cases? Again, the answer is simple. One cinema theater is a part of a business and not some film society promoting good cinema. When they have an oversupply of films every week, they obviously select those films which will have maximum footfalls. Why should they be responsible for either safeguarding ‘art’ or give opportunity to new talent at the cost of a haemorrhaging bottom-line.? For true cinephiles, there are enough film festivals where such films can be viewed. Besides, several film clubs and institutions hold regular screenings of award winning and off-beat cinema in dozens of towns and cities. I watch almost 30/40 such films at such screenings.

Bollywood
There is great exploitation and gender inequality in bollywood. Pixabay

We must remember India is a hugely under screened country. With a population of over 1,300 million cinema lovers and production of 2,000 films and just 9,000 screens, it becomes obvious that half the films will never get released as the cinemas can’t accommodate them. Since there is no embargo or qualification on producing films, all and sundry jump into film making, many with no talent and others with no resources. The result is several disgruntled filmmakers, writers, artistes and technicians and, of course, a small section of the audience. Leading the chorus of how unfair multiplex chains are is a group of film critics, cineastes and some cultural interlopers. Let’s not forget, since the beginning of cinema in India over a century ago, many a talented and brave people have fought against odds and not only succeeded but even made landmark films in spite of lesser cinemas.

A third question one is often asked is about the personal life of stars. Fueled by a surfeit of gossip, slander in media (traditional and social) and ‘insider information’, most people believe that all of us in showbiz are on some 24×7 party. The assumption is most of us are debauched, amoral, irresponsible and uneducated purveyors of lust, lucre and lubricity. I am often accosted by strangers and friends alike wanting to know about some young star’s purported love affair.

For many film folks specially, stars have nothing to do apart from sleeping around. Much to the disdain of my inquisitors, I have to disappoint them by my plain-speaking denial of existence of any such El Dorado in showbiz and the many modern myths that are nothing but fertile imagination hard at work. Less than .1 per cent of film professionals can even afford a luxurious lifestyle. Even the very few who do make millions do it at a considerable cost of losing their privacy, family life and even simple pleasures like eating out or going for a walk. A lot of the time is spent working in trying conditions for hours in grime and greasepaint. Even looking good all the time is a painful task. Stars today are under a severe fitness regime and often are under strict dietary restrictions. Filming long hours, sometimes in remote locations, is not an easy life.

Also Read- Doing “83” Was a Refreshing Change: Actress Deepika Padukone

It is assumed, largely based on hearsay and stray misdemeanors, that all film people are promiscuous. There is great exploitation and gender inequality. Of course, there is but perhaps far less than in other occupations. Nowadays, most production houses and all studios practice a healthy work environment and discrimination on caste, creed, language, religion and sex is discouraged. Today, there is a greater awareness and observance of copyright and seldom are writers, technicians, artistes, musicians and other creative professionals denied their credit. A $ three billion industry, employing over half a million people, is definitely not what people imagine. Behind tinsel and glamour, and neon lights, there is struggle, ignominy and loneliness. (IANS)