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3 Oct

Will ‘Padmavati’ be the latest film to vilify Muslim leaders of the Subcontinent?

In the almost century-long history of Indian cinema, narratives have seen an inclusion of stories from all across the Subcontinent; whether it’s films based on folklore or history. However, amongst the plethora of films that focus on the ‘Muslim rule in India’, most end up making you question it. The latest example being, of course, Padmavati.

By no means were half the leaders in the annals of the Subcontinent’s constant conquest and plunder, ‘heroes.’ From the Nizam of Hyderabad – who’s seen in Bajirao Mastani – to now, Alauddin Khilji in Padmavati, the constant approach to vilify a certain ideology shows a heavy-handed form of filmmaking.

Shown as the villainous ‘Alauddin Khilji’ who conquered the Rajputana State due to his alleged love (or lust) for Rani Padmini, the story has only one source (a prose called Padmavati) which in itself has been questioned time and again.

 

The second reveal of his look as Alauddin Khilji shows Ranveer Singh as the ‘scarred’ leader.

While ‘creative control’ is truly a blessed thing – and has been present in cinema for the longest time – does it give anyone enough ground to make any leader a hero or a villain? After all, it’s no hidden fact that be it Khilji or Rana Rawal Ratan Singh (being played by Shahid Kapoor in Padmavati), they did conduct the massacre of hundreds of thousands through their dynasties.

Although we’re still rooting the film and the art of storytelling, it makes us wonder if truly what we end up believing is ‘true’, is actually the whole truth or even a speck of it?

Shahjehan Saleem

The author is Deputy Editor at Something Haute as well as a professor in the Media Sciences department at SZABIST, Karachi. Socio-cultural theories and geography fill up the rest of his time.