“padmavati” controversial, protesters burn tires, attack shops

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The lavishly-produced “Padmaavat”, a 163-minute film, centers on a Muslim ruler, Alauddin Khilji, and his battle with the Rajput king of Chittor, over the king’s wife, Rani Padmavati.

The film-makers have repeatedly said the film takes its inspiration from an epic poem of the same name, but their assurances have failed to assuage the Karni Sena group.

India’s Supreme Court last week cleared the way for the film’s release and has blocked state governments from imposing bans on it.

Fears of violence mean the film has yet to open in several places, from the western state of Gujarat to central Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, all usually big markets for India’s film industry.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rules Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

”It is a huge loss for us, because this is a big film that we would have liked to show in our theatres, Sandeep Jain, who owns seven theatres in Madhya Pradesh, told Reuters by telephone.

Indian protesters burnt tires and vandalized shops on Thursday to oppose the release of a controversial Bollywood film, prompting cinema owners in several states to abandon plans for screenings.

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Indian protesters burnt tires and vandalized shops on Thursday to oppose the release of a controversial Bollywood film, prompting cinema owners in several states to abandon plans for screenings.

Television showed images of children cowering in fear on the floor of a schoolbus targeted by protesters in Gurugram, about 30 km (19 miles) from New Delhi, on Wednesday.

“But there has been no support from the local administration.”

Reuters could not immediately reach Madhya Pradesh authorities by telephone to seek comment.

HISTORY BEHIND PADMAVATI

Film Padmavati is based on the epic Padmavat, composed by medieval age Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi from the days of the Bhakti Movement, which produced Tulsidas, Surdas and Kabir among hundreds of others.

Padmavat tells a story, which historians don’t value much, treating it as a work of fiction of the queen of Chittor named Padmavati, who was coveted by Delhi’s sultan Alauddin Khilji , known for his military conquests across India and strong market regulations in the capital to keep the prices of articles in control.

Alauddin Khilji attacked and captured the Fort of Chittor in 1306. The Delhi sultan died in 1316. Padmavat was composed by Jayasi in 1540. Alauddin Khilji and Padmavat of Jayasi are separated by 224 years and over 650 kilometres (Jayasi’s grave is near Amethi).

Padmavat has the distinction of being the first epic in people’s dialect Awadhi, the same language that the great poet Tulsidas used for his literary works, including the Ramacharitmanas.

WHAT JAYASI WROTE IN PADMAVAT?

According to Padmavat, its central character Padmavati was the most beautiful woman of her time. She was the princess of Singhaldweep (modern day Sri Lanka). She was extremely fond of her pet parrot named Hiraman, whom she treated as a friend.

Padmavati’s father Gandharvasen does not approve of her friendship with Hiraman and ordered the bird to be killed. But, the bird flies away to escape punishment. It is trapped by a bird catcher, who sells it to Ratnasen, the king of Chittor.

Impressed by its qualities, Ratnasen of Chittor keeps Hiraman as his pet. Hiraman describes the pristine beauty of Padmavati to Ratnasen, who develops a deep love for the Singhal queen. Ratnasen plans a clandestine visit, but with 16,000 of his guards and followers, to Singhaldweep.

RATNASEN AND PADMAVATI

Upon reaching Singhaldweep, Ratnasen resorts to extreme, austere prayers at a Shiva temple. The news reaches Padmavati, who visits the temple but fails to see Ratnasen. When the Chittor king learns about Padmavati’s visit to the temple and his missed chance, he is so anguished and pained that he decides to kill self.

As Ratnasen prepares to commit suicide, Lord Shiva and Parvati appear before him and suggest him to march to the fort of Singhaldweep to claim Padmavati. Still disguised as an ascetic, Ratnasen marches on to the fort with his followers. But he was captured by the forces of Gandharvasen.

As Ratnasen was to be executed, his followers reveal his true identity to the Singhaldweep ruler. A surprised Gandharvasen marries off his daughter Padmavati to Ratnasen and also hands him over 16,000 Singhal Padmini (the best grade women – Jayasi does not define the criteria for declaring a woman as the best grade).

PADMAVATI AND NAGMATI

While Ratnasen marries Padmavati in Singhaldweep, his first queen Nagmati longs for him in Chittor. She sends a bird messenger to Singhaldweep, sharing her feelings with Ratnasen, who starts his journey to Chittor.

Ratnasen loses most of his followers to a storm in the sea lying between the mainland and Singhaldweep. But, his love and devotion for Padmavati impresses the sea god, who gives him valuable gifts. Laden with gifts and prizes, Rantasen and Padmavati land at Puri in modern day Odisha.

Back at Chittor, Ratnasen has a hard time pacifying his two queens as both Nagmati and Padmavati crave for his absolute attention. Meanwhile, Ratnasen banishes a Brahmin named Raghav Chetan, who was apparently close to Padmavati.

ALAUDDIN KHILJI MAKES ENTRY

Before Raghav Chetan sets on his journey outside the kingdom of Chittor, Padmavati gives him one of her bangles. Accustomed to royal favours, Raghav Chetan seeks shelter at Delhi sultan Alauddin Khilji’s court.

Alauddin Khilji asks Raghav Chetan about the bangle, upon which the banished Brahmin describes the beauty of Padmavati in a manner such that it incites lust in the sultan for the Chittor queen. He sets out to have a glimpse of the queen.

Alauddin Khilji lays a siege of the Chittor fort and demands Padmavati for himself but fails to defeat the king. The siege continues without success and as a compromise, Alauddin Khilji is invited as a guest inside the fort against the advice of Gora and Badal, the valiant military generals of Ratnasen.

During his stay as the royal guest, Alauddin Khilji captures a glimpse of Padmavati. As he is about to leave and Ratnasen comes to see off the Delhi sultan, Alauddin Khilji kidnaps the Chittor king and flees.

ALAUDDIN NEVER MEETS PADMAVATI

Padmavati asks Gora and Badal to free Ratnasen and bring him back. Gora and Badal devise a strategy and set out for Delhi durbar in the disguise of Padmavati. As they reach Alauddin Khilji’s royal palace where Ratnasen is held captive, they attack the guards present there and manage to rescue the Chittor king.

Gora dies fighting the forces of Alauddin Khilji while Badal escorts the king of Chittor safely. But Jayasi brings up another twist in the tale. While Ratnasen was away, ruler of Kumbhalner Devpal sends a marriage to Padmavati.

On Ratnasen’s return, a fight ensues between him and Devpal. In the battle, they end up killing each other. Jayasi says that upon the death of Ratnasen, both his queens Padmavati and Nagmati commit sati.

Some time later, Alauddin lays another siege of Chittor with a bigger army. When it becomes clear that there is no way out, the women of the fort perform jauhar (the act of jumping into a massive burning flame to escape humiliation at the hands of enemies) while all the men die fighting.

At the end of the war, Jayasi leaves the reader with a satire, saying that the great sultan Alauddin Khilji succeeds in converting only the fort made up of bricks and stones to Islam. Padmavati remains a dream for Alauddin Khilji, the mightiest ruler of contemporary India.

 

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