Skip to main content

Game has changed: Karni Sena, right-wing have realised, Padmaavat doesn't violate their "pride" and "honour"

By Aditi Kundu*
We may have to wait some more time for Good Days, but undoubtedly we are living in interesting times. We never know what would become a burning issue, for which the society - at least a significant and vocal segment – is prepared to forget everything else and ready to take or give up human life!
It could be corruption, gender violence, insecurity in schools, air pollution and all these affect significantly our physical existence. Sometimes, however, it is our new found nationalism, preservation of cultural ethos and historical glory and protection of freedom of expression at the cost of offending others.
More recently “Padmaavat” has come to the centre stage of our national debate. Opinions were sharply divided before people saw the film but situation has not changed after they did, although their assessments now stand diametrically opposite to that made earlier. There are numerous reviews on the “cult” film, each one trying to find meaning in the unending jargons, costumes and fancy sets of the film. All the reviews -- from Anna MM Vetticad, finding a distinct communal bias in the movie, to Swara Bhaskar’s most talked review from a feminist perspective -- are intriguing.
The film which is based on one of the most famous “Jauhar” stories of the country was embroiled in controversies right from the time the film was being shot. The rumours of shooting of a dream sequence between Rani Padmavati and Alauddin sparked a speculation of love angle between Alauddin Khilji and the Rajput queen, which is considered as demeaning “Indian culture”, especially that of the “Rajputs”, even if it is part of anyone’s imagination.
Not many could think that the self-styled group called Karni Sena could go on such a massive violent rampage destroying public and private property and capture public media space. Open threats of chopping off nose and heads took us back to the medieval times when probably the fiction actually took place, if at all! On the other hand, the intellectuals, modernists demanded freedom of creative expression, raising strong voices against the regressive outlook of Karni Sena and other right wing outfits, lending cerebral legitimacy to a film based on regressive and obsolete rituals such as “Sati” and “Jauhar”.
Interestingly, however, the game has changed with the release of the film. Karni Sena and the right wing have realised that the film has no such content that violates their pride and honour in any way and are trying to find excuses for withdrawing from the line of protest. Why? Clearly, the film glorifies “Rajputi” tradition of bravery and honour and in no small measure.
But what made them even happier is exactly what irked the left wing and modernists. “Padmaavat”, by all means, depicts Rajputs as the upholders of traditions and values upon which humanity and civilization rest, while the “khiljis”, (reference could abashedly be to Muslims) are shown as deceitful, treacherous and cruel. And this is reflected in more than one episode.
The way the Rajputs serve food versus how the Muslims eat a whole roasted animal (it was bigger than goat but smaller than a cow). How the “Rajputs” are neat and clean, bathed and combed, while Alauddin Khilji is drenched in blood and sweat, that you can almost smell sitting in the theatre. Where are the grand Moghul traditions? Where is the Islamic art and architecture? The initial scenes, supposedly somewhere in Afghanistan or in Delhi, are forever dark and cloudy, while Chittor is bright with sunshine and colours. Hence the intellectuals are hurt that the film portrays Muslims in a negative light and thereby deepens the communal divide.
Wonder what else were they expecting out of Bhansali’s magnum opus? Were they expecting the film to be a love story between Khilji and Padmavati. Given the sensitivities of different segments of Indian population and their promptness to get offended, only Karni Sena could have suspected that? Sanjay Leela Bhansali knows better; he is a pucca businessman.
The question is what were the left wing intellectuals supporting Bhansali or the intervention by the Film Censor Board for - creative expression? They have often been at loggerheads with the decisions of the Board or, for that matter, many other institutions in the country, perceived as wings of the belligerent state. Now that they are opposing it as a regressive film glorifying “jauhar”, vanity of the age old customs and rituals like sati, one must ask, how come they did not anticipate that? How come they did not believe Bhansali while he shouted his lungs out about his intentions? Why did they not insist the Film Censor Board to exercise discretion over anyone right of free expression?
Karni Sena, Mumbai, praising Padmaavat
It could as well be that Bhansali has actually made the film for the likes of Karni Sena so that it becomes a blockbuster! So how interesting is that!! Right wing was actually doing left wings job and left was supporting the right, albeit unknowingly or naively.
The film actually seems like an attempt by Bhansali to join the league of new brand of nationalists in the Bollywood. The story line of the film has no originality, no twist to the tale, excepting designer jewellery and clothings. It is basically the same story, people at least in north India have heard over and over again that can be told in two sentences.
The grandeur and opulence cannot substitute a storyline based on a fiction written in the 14th century, further fictionalised by Bhansali in the 21st century. The film ends with Bhansali’s imagination where Khilji the conniving and villainous monster deceives Ratan Singh in a sword fight and kills him. All the take-home from the film are many such overtones making it clear that it belongs to the right wing and can only reinforce the communal divide.
There are many films that try to cash upon popular notions without bothering about the societal repercussions. But what this film exposes is that we people of this country want to believe without thinking. Whether it is the right-wing or the left-wing, given their rigid opinions, lack of empathy and openness, the centre will always be troubled.
---
*Architect, presently associated with the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) and the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical Institute for Women (IGDTUW)

Comments

Neeraj Nanda said…
The movie does not fit into the Right-Left scenario. It's more a polished and loud fairy tale. If we search rationality everywhere then the disappointment is obvious.
Naila said…
I liked the article overall, however, Khilji was not a Mughal and hence the grand Mughal traditions were not shown.

TRENDING

You promised 50 lakh houses, give us one: Ahmedabad migrant women's plea to Modi

Women display letters containing rakhi for PM    By Hirabhai Solanki, Bhartiben Dantani, Ramesh Shrivastav*  Poor labouring families, including seasonal or long-term migrants of nearly 15 squatter settlements -- working as construction and casual workers and petty vendors, providing cheap but critically important labour for Ahmedabad city, living under plastic sheetings -- have reminded the Gujarat and Central Governments about the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of building 50 lakh dwellings, wherein every pavement dweller and homeless would be given a decent home by the end of 2022. Holding a meeting in Ahmedabad under the aegis of the Majur Adhikaar Manch, they also referred to the appeal of the Prime Minister to poor and labouring women, seeking his support as brother by sending rakhis to protect their humble basti dwellings and provide them with decent housing, which is secure for them and their families. So far, about 300 women have posted rakhis to the Prime Ministe

A tale of horror and fraud: Profits in trillions of dollars for vaccine manufacturers?

By Aruna Rodrigues*  John Leake is a best-selling and “experienced non-fiction, true crime author”. Having just read what must be described as an extraordinary ‘telling’ of the Covid-19 saga, his book “The Courage to Face Covid-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex”, co-authored with Peter A McCullough, MD, MPH, is the narration of true crime on a scale that could top the list in the history of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. The book chronicles the unique role of national governments across the world and their health agencies, led by the USA and WHO, which followed an agenda that led to completely avoidable fatalities numbering several million. The question is why? The usual culprits are money and power. But to ascribe cause to these two is woefully insufficient. The sheer magnitude of the ‘dark agenda’ – coordinated and played out by governments, health agencies, the medical establishment (hospitals, doctors and chemists) and the massive a

A countdown to disaster: Breach in fly-ash bunds of Nagpur's thermal power plants

Fly-ash dyke, Koradi thermal power plant  By Dhwani Shah, Deepmala Patel*  Last month the residents of several villages of Nagpur district woke up to the nightmare of being inundated with fly-ash. Located in the north of Nagpur city are Koradi and Khaparkheda thermal power stations which have their ash dykes in the vicinity. On July 10, 2022 at 3 am, the ash dyke of the Khaparkheda thermal power station broke, leading to ash contaminating the Kanhan river. Though the authorities claimed to have acted quickly and the fly ash dumping in the river was stopped, the claim stood to be misleading and false. Even today, the Kanhan river continues to be polluted with fly-ash, and the water supply to the city is affected. Not only did ash dyke of the Khaparkheda power station break, on July 16, 2022, the ash bund of the Koradi thermal power plant also broke. Fly-ash and water stored in the dyke gushed downstream to six villages -- drowning houses, water bodies and farmlands. With such large-

Kailash Satyarthi NGO floats new centre in Delhi to 'empower' underprivileged children

By Our Representative  A voluntary organisation linked with Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi-supported NGO has floated a unique children’s resource centre at Sanjay Camp, Chankyapuri, New Delhi, in order to facilitate in imparting remedial education, recreational training and holistic development of children of around 2,500 under-privileged slum-dwelling families. Virender Singh Kadian, MLA of Delhi Cantonment, inaugurated the centre, which is called Shaheed Kalu Bal Vikas Kendra. The resource centre is in memory of Kalu Kumar, who died at an young age serving and working towards the development of under-privileged children, said an NGO source. A firebrand activist, Kalu Kumar was trafficked from Bihar to the carpet manufacturing belt of Allahabad when he was six. He was rescued by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan at the age of 10. A bright student, Kalu he covered up the lost ground very quickly and grew up to become a leader fighting for the rights of other child slaves at Bal Ashram. In

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Multi-crore NRC updation scam? Awaited: Assam media's self-cleaning mechanism

By Nava Thakuria  If some editor-journalists are allegedly involved in a financial scam, shouldn't the people get an opportunity to identify them? As the mainstream newspapers and news channels of Assam are avoiding the issue in their coverage, how come the actual picture will come to the public domain? If the mainstream media outlets intentionally kill the news, reasons best known to the editors, should the social media users take a lead? By now a number of senior journalists (with experience in print journalism for many decades) have highlighted the issue in social media. Their message is loud and clear- identify the corrupt television journalists who grabbed a huge amount of money which is actually meant for thousands of Assamese professionals. It all began when a second first information report (FIR) was filed by the outgoing State coordinator of National Register of Citizens (NRC) against his predecessor alleging corruption and money laundering while updating the 1951 NRC in A

RSS, Sangh Parivar consider tricolour as "state flag" and not "national flag"

By Teesta Setalvad* Today, when the nation has been independent for 67 years, the Sangh Parivar is set to launch ‘Tiranga yatras’ and Satyagrahas to defend the honour of the flag and the nation. Yet when the Indian people were involved in the decades-long struggle for freedom against British imperialism, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence in the struggle. When thousands of people faced lathis, bullets and jail sentences for hoisting the tiranga and participated all over the country in satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements against the British Raj, the Sangh publicly took the stand that it would not take part in the movement and seldom missed the opportunity of assuring the British rulers that they would keep to the right side of colonial law and avoid any clash with the authorities. Of course the reason given for this was that the Sangh was secretly strengthening itself and would take on British imperialism only when it was strong enough to do so! A simil

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Grossly inadequate': NREGA allocation 0.29% of GDP, World Bank recommended 1.6%

By Rajiv Shah  A civil society tracker, seeking to periodically analyse the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), has said that NREGA budgetary allocation is only 0.29% of GDP and 1.85% of the total government expenditure of the financial year 2022-23, which is grossly inadequate. Thus, “As per estimates of researchers of the World Bank, for NREGA to run robustly, its allocation must at least be 1.6% of the GDP.” Prepared by the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), a group of activists, academics and members of people’s organizations, who came together to advocate for NREGA in 2004 in order to catalyse discussion and strengthen the top Government of India rural jobs guarantee scheme, the tracker states, the NREGA budget as percentage of the total government expenditure has also decreased -- it stands at 1.85% for FY 2022-23, just about half the level in FY 2020-21 (3.65%). The tracker, titled “Meagre Funds and Unlawfully Low Wages: How

Since 2015 Govt of India didn't allocate single rupee to Gujarat for RTI training, awareness

By Pankti Jog*  The Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India (GoI) has allocated Rs 8.7 crore to Maharashtra for conducting Right to Information (RTI) training and awareness between 2015 to 2022. Of this, Rs 5.9 crore has gone to the Maharashtra State Training Institute, YASHADA, and Rs 3.01 crore have gone to the State Information Commission, Maharashtra. Gujarat, on the other hand, has not received even a single rupee over the last seven years for RTI programmes. Even Gujarat’s State Information Commission too has not not received any funds since 2005. RTI is one of the effective tools to bring transparency and accountability in the administration, thus improve governance. If citizens are aware, they would participate in a more meaningful manner in governance. They would effectively monitor planning and expenses of public programmes. Indeed, it is necessary that RTI is taken to every citizen, for which the government needs to conduct awareness drives and training