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What is the reality of Peshwa Bajirao?

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By Harshmeet Singh

Movies have the power to enforce a perception upon the society. After all, most of the affection for the ‘Superhuman’ Sallu bhai aka Salman Khan is based on the superhero roles he plays on the screen. Alternatively, cinema also has the power to bring forgotten heroes back into the minds of people, as in the case of Bhagat Singh, Milkha Singh and more recently, Peshwa Bajirao.

Considering the widespread reach of cinema in the country, it is imperative that movies based on historical subjects stay true to the facts so that the audience isn’t disillusioned. In this context, the latest Bollywood flick Bajirao Mastani is an interesting case study. Though the movie carries with it disclaimers that certain historical facts have been altered in order to enhance the storytelling, a number of historians believe that the movie’s presentation of Peshwa Bajirao is far from facts.

As soon as the movie hit the screens, historians and other critics took up their pens to sketch the real character of Bajirao which is, for some, far different from Bhansali’s imagination. NewsGram brings you some of the choicest write-ups that try to turn back the pages of history and present the reality of the famed Maratha warrior.

  • On the other hand, in “Why Bajirao is India’s greatest cavalry general”, Colonel Anil A Athale (retd) contests that the Peshwa was the greatest warrior India has ever seen. He says that Bajirao was an unorthodox leader, and hence faced opposition from a number of people.
  • In the article named “The Wonderland of Bajirao and Akhand Bharat”, the writer wittingly compares Peshwa Bajirao’s idea (as shown in movie) of Akhand Bharat with a recent interview given by BJP’s Ram Madhav to Al Jazeera where he said that Akhand Bharat is a possibility.
  • In a blog published in Times of India, Bajirao Mastani a hit-job on the great Maratha, the writer tears into Sanjay Leela Bhansali for distorting multiple facts in the movie and showcasing Bajirao as merely a passionate lover, rather than highlighting his military skills.

The jury is still out on Bhansali’s presentation of the warrior and his averseness towards facts. These insightful write-ups may help you in making up your opinion.

 

 

 

 

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‘Padmaavat’ crosses Rs 300 cr, Ranveer calls it ‘historic film’

Ranveer Singh is overwhelmed that with "Padmaavat", he has entered the club of actors whose movies have minted over Rs 300 crore at the box office

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The movie ‘Padmavat’ has been in news and creating a wave of the storm since the time of its inception. Wikimedia Commons
The movie ‘Padmavat’ has been in news and creating a wave of the storm since the time of its inception. Wikimedia Commons

Ranveer Singh is overwhelmed that with “Padmaavat”, he has entered the club of actors whose movies have minted over Rs 300 crore at the box office. He says it’s a “historic” project that will “glow” in his career.

The actor essayed Alauddin Khilji in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directorial, which also stars Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor in pivotal roles.

Ranveer singh Playing Alauddin Khilji in Padmavati
Ranveer singh played the role of Alauddin Khilji in Padmavati. Instagram

Ranveer said in a statement: “‘Padmaavat’ is a historic film for our country. I’m overwhelmed and extremely happy that the film has received this much love from audiences not just in India, but also the world over.

“It is a film that is and will always be extremely close to my heart and with it becoming my first ever Rs 300 crore film, the memory of ‘Padmaavat’ will be that much more special.” He thanked Bhansali for his vision, and for giving him a character like Khilji that “will forever glow in my body of work”.

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

“This success is for all of us to cherish and remember that as artistes, we need to stand by our vision, our craft,” said Ranveer of the movie, which was released on January 25 after much controversy. Just earlier this week, the movie crossed 50 days since hitting the screens, and it’s still counting at the box office. IANS

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Get over yourself for Indian cinema’s progress: KJo to filmmakers

Karan shared that he moderated a panel at the ongoing Berlin International Film Festival

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Karan Johar, Yahoo
  • Karan Johar is one of the Bollywood’ most famous movie director
  • KJo has made many landmark Bollywood drama films
  • He will be representing India in this year’s Berlin Film Festival

Filmmaker Karan Johar is bursting with pride as he is representing Indian cinema at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival. He feels that to achieve a global impact and for Indian cinema to progress, fellow filmmakers need to go beyond themselves and focus on the industry.

Karan Johar is one of the Bollywood's leading film director. IANS
Karan Johar is one of the Bollywood’s leading film director. IANS

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in partnership with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is participating at the European Film Market from February 16-18 in Berlin. The Indian delegation, which also consists of filmmakers like Jahnu Barua and Shaji Karun, is being led by Karan.

“I am having a great time. This is a fantastic coming together of people and exploring possibilities of what we can do with Europe. This is like the beginning of a new era in cinema. I am glad that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is supporting the cause with CII to make sure that we have this kind of global interaction,” Karan told IANS over the phone from Berlin.

While he is excited about his presence there, some of the netizens are not. They thought that “Padmaavat” director Sanjay Leela Bhansali would have been a better fit.

Asked about the haters on social media, the “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” director said: “I would be happy if Sanjay Leela Bhansali was here as well or anybody else. I have always quietly done my own thing whether it is speaking at colleges or attending World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos or film festivals in places like Toronto.”

“I will do my own thing, no matter what people say. There will always be haters on social media but I am one of those few filmmakers who has spoken about Indian cinema on a global platform. I never talk about myself there. I talk about what I represent.”

In fact, Karan says he would be happy if Indian filmmakers like Rajkumar Hirani or Bhansali travelled to different places and spoke about Indian cinema.

KJo will be joining jury of Berlin Film Festival this year. VOA
KJo will be joining the jury of Berlin Film Festival this year. VOA

 

But at a time of digital boom, how important is it to have an Indian presence at international film festivals?

“It is very critical. Many filmmakers travel but we need more of mainstream voices. There is no way that we can achieve that global impact if we just think about ourselves.

“You have to look at the industry as a holistic force, and not as an individual’s work. We tend to do only that.

We have to get over ourselves and go beyond ourselves if we need our cinema to progress the way it has to,” he said.

Also Read: Karan Johar recalled His First meeting with SRK. This is What he has To say

Karan shared that he moderated a panel at the ongoing Berlin International Film Festival.

“We discussed that we are open for business and we also spoke about how Indian cinema has come of age… the new age content. Indian filmmakers are pushing the envelope. There are misconceptions around Indian cinema that has time and again been proven wrong in the last decade and beyond… that we are not just a song and dance filmmaking nation.

“Someone asked me ‘Are you still running around trees’? I am like these misconceptions are almost annoying now because many films have broken new ground and are continuing to leave an impact in Europe,” said the owner of the popular banner Dharma Productions.

Sharing examples, he said: “Films like ‘The Lunchbox’ did phenomenally well in Europe, what’s happening in China with Aamir Khan’s film ‘Dangal’, and a Telugu film like ‘Baahubali’ which went about breaking new grounds. There are several films that are being spoken about.

KJo is super excited about the festival. IANS
KJo is super excited about the festival. IANS

“We have an official selection (at Berlin) of a film called ‘Garbage’ by Q. It’s really exciting. I think many more films should go to festivals in Berlin, Cannes and Toronto. We have to constantly up the game in terms of global participation.”

But the audience often sees a gap between Hindi cinema and film festivals.

“I think that the gap is reducing. There’s always alternate and mainstream. These divides are just made as ‘terminology divide’. For example, ‘Newton’ is a wonderful human story. If you see ‘Dangal’, which is a huge commercial success, is a lovely human saga.

“These are parameters that we make that ‘this is an art house or this is commercial’. No, these are films with stories. If they are beautiful, they will connect with the audience irrespective of whether it is at a festival or cinema hall.” IANS

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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.

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