So, let’s enter the intriguing tale of talking parrots, dangerous seas, God’s, wars, passionate heroes, venomous villains and most importantly, a beautiful race of women.
Poets are the best. They got their primary and secondary imaginative faculty working very well. Even that’s what makes them different from others, if you ask me. With a little thread of historic record, they can weave whatever they want. They are descendents of Brahma themselves, if you ask me, but with no power to create in material. They can, with a single speck of thought create magical worlds, mystic beings, sacred texts and, what not. . . Everything that can done through mind, they do that. Even Freud agrees that when he says on his 70th birthday or something, that he is not the precursor of Psychoanalysis, but the ancient poets are, who had exploited human mind, in no way science can (last 10 words are mine; for the sake of effect).
The one poet I am here to talk about is, Malik Muhammad Jayasi, a 16th century Indian Sufi poet, who composed the primary source of the legend of Queen Padmavati, as an epic poem, Padmavat, in Awadhi language. Later his advent, there were many other poets and historians who talked of the story and composed many different versions of it. While Padmavati lies as the prime protagonist of every version, the story kept on changing. Many a time, Ratan Sen is portrayed as hero of this tale, different versions project his elder brother LacchanSinha or there uncle BimaSinha and even the traditionally portrayed villain Alauddin Khalji, the sultan of Delhi. Obviously the tale is retold by poets of different cultures, religions, regions and perceptions, even by the court-poets of Khalji.
The Tale – As simple as it can be kept:Padmavati, the princess of Singhal Kingdom (present day Sri Lanka) got a talking parrot, Hiraman as her friend. They were so close, that it intimidated her father, the king, Gandharv Sen. He ordered the parrot be killed. You know what happens next: Padmavati helps the parrot to fly away for its life. Hence, Hiraman was saved!
Through a Series of Unfortunate Events, the parrot is finally spotted by the king of Chittor, Ratan Sen. He buys the parrot and spends time with it. The parrot keeps on boasting about the beauty of Padmini women in the island of Singhal, and in particular about princess Padmavati. Mesmerized by the descriptions, with a company of 16,000 men, Ratan Sen crosses the seven seas and finds the island.
He reaches a temple of Shiva and practices severe austerities in hope of finding her. When he knows he missed her, he tires to sacrifice himself through fire. Then comes Shiva, along with His beloved wife Parvathi and advises him to attack on Singhal fort. Ratan Sen does what he is advised and he loses the war and is prisioned by the king. But when the Singhal king knows that Ratan Sen is the King of Chittor, he lends her daughter’s hand to him in marriage and also arranges 16,000 Padmini women to the men who accompanied Ratan Sen.
After a while, they return back to India and in the way, in the test of Gods, all the 16,000 men and 16,000 accompanying women were dead and passing the test of love by Gods, Ratan Sen and Padmavati return safely. This is where the real thing starts.
The news of a beautiful Padmini women in mainland was known by Alauddin Khalji and lusts for one. In many versions it is said that Khalji tries to invade Singhal for Padmini women but fails. Anyway, his eyes fall upon Padmavati, the only Padmini women on the mainland. Then there were wars, sacrifices, heroic-dares, pretty intelligent palanquin-plots, disloyal friends, loyal guardians, 700 brave skilled warriors, seizes, releases, ah….. It is an epic you see… A lot of things happen.
Finally. . . At the end of all those heart-moving combats and deeds, Khalji invades Chittor, killing Ratan Sen. Warriors fight bravely against Khalji, but his 2.7million army was not so easy to defeat. Countless died, trying to secure the pride of their queen, but they lost their lives. At the end, before Khalji could reach her, Padmavati with all her companions did self-immolation, Sati, burning themselves with their beloved husbands, hence securing the pride and chastity, which counted the most important, than life itself.
So, that’s the tale, in the most simple form.
As we talked before, many versions were made basing on the legend, in which, a pair of note-worthy warriors, Gora and Badli were highlited as they fetch their king back on the order of Padmavati, in the process, Gora was killed, who is said to have attained half throne of Indra for his brave fight and sacrifice.
However the legend may twist and turn, in the past hundred years, the tale gained a very high interest, because of its many themes pertaining to Hindu culture and chastity. Scholars even interpreted Padmavati as Hindu Queen who personfies proudness and chastity of Rajputs. They also portrayed it as a glorious fightback against “Wicked Muslims” who were conquering India; a solution between than submission. Ah, after all the epic poem and the glorious Padmini Queen were created/brought into spotlight by a Muslim Poet. Cool though, he is long dead!
So, that’s the thing. With all those dimensions and dilemmas, the epic (which got no real historical significance) was written, rewritten and quoted and talked about, even in Nehru’s Discovery of India, got a great significance in modern times. Now, being filmed by Sanjay Leela Bansali ji, this became one of the most controversial project which is under process. Pride, it is the vital theme of this age-old epic; hurting that might not yeild a good result for his 200crs huge project.
All the best for the master director and musical mystic!