Padmavati row: Was Rani Padmini real or a figment of imagination?

Updated: 18 November, 2017 20:04 IST | Priyanka Dharwadkar | Mumbai

Rani Padmini has captivated artistes - behind the pen as well as camera - for centuries with numerous poems, plays and movies featuring her, eager to narrate her story. But the key question remains: was she real or a figment of a writer's imagination

She is Rani Padmini - the breathtakingly beautiful wife of Rajput king Ratan Sen, according to Indian poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi - the object of many men's obsession, a symbol of valour and sacrifice for the Rajput.

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

During the Swadeshi movement in the 19th century, she featured in several works of art, on paper as well as film, as a patriotic inspiration. But here's where historians jump in, with their damning facts - that she is simply Jayasi's creation in his Padmawat, published in 1540 CE, and there is no historical evidence to suggest she even existed; even the name Ratan Sen, they say, was invented by Jayasi with no reference in Mewar history, and that the correct name of Chittor's then ruler was Rawal Ratan Singh. So, who really was Rani Padmavati? We break it down.

'Nobody can stop Padmavati from releasing. We are doing nothing [wrong]. Our heart is in the right place. I feel as if I am living her and she [Rani Padmini] has blessed me. I am sure that we have not tampered with history. We are bringing the story of a brave woman on the silver screen. It is a tribute to India's glorious heritage and the exemplary courage of its women and men!'
- Deepika Padukone

'Padmavati' has been made with a lot of honesty, responsibility and hard work. I have clarified it earlier and doing it again… there is no such (scene) in the film (Padmavati-Khilji dream sequence), which will hurt anyone's sentiments and sensibilities. We have kept the Rajput honour and dignity in mind while making this film...'
- Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Fact of the matter

Prof Irfan Habib, historian
'Rani Padmini is a character created by Malik Mohd Jayasi in his Padmawat written in 1540. No mention in any historical record before this. Prof K S Lal and Prof Gauri Shankar Ojha, an expert on Rajasthan history find nothing before Padmini legend was created after 1540' (sic)

Tanuja Kothiyal, prof of history, Ambedkar University, Delhi
'Rani Padmini's story is a fictional narrative handed down to us, traversing different regions and languages, after it took birth in the 16th century. The problem starts when such a narrative is called history. Rajputs have held on to it because their real history is riddled with losses, and Padmini's tale gives them the chance to be seen in a brave light. For the rest, maybe, keeping her alive as a historical figure, than a legend, fits somewhere in today's times, serves some purpose or someone's interest'

Reel Rani Padminis

Delicia Clarck

Kamonar Agun (Flames of Flesh) by Debaki Bose


Chittor Rani Padmini by Ch. Narayana Murthy

Anita Guha

Maharani Padmini by Jaswant Jhaveri

Distortion of history or fringe gone crazy?

Jan: Rajput Karni Sena attacks Bhansali and stalls film’s shoot at Jaigarh fort in Jaipur.

Mar: The film’s set in Kolhapur is torched.

Aug: The Federation of Western India Cine Employees strike threatens to play havoc with the film’s schedule.

Nov 1: A 100-member mob of Rajput Mahamorcha attempt to stop the launch of the movie’s 3-D trailer in Andheri.

Nov 2: Maharashtra Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal demands a ban on ‘Padmavati’ over distortion of history.

Nov 10: SC refuses to stay release of the film.

Nov 10: Hindu organisations in Agra threaten theatres with dire consequences if they screen the movie.

Nov 16: Rajput Karni Sena openly issues threat to cut off Deepika’s nose.

Rs 180 cr
Budget of the historical drama

First Published: 18 November, 2017 17:06 IST

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