Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Padmaavat is finally getting released after months of controversy, delays, protests and change in title from Padmavati to Padmaavat. There has been an allegation that there was no Rajput queen by that name and the story is only inspired by Malik Mohamad Jayasi’s epic poem Padmavat. The cult literature piece features Rani of Chittoor – Padmini (Padmavati), Maharaja Ratan Singh and Sultan Alauddin Khilji and is part of Rajasthani folklore.
Though the film’s release has been opposed by fringe groups, we can see that several versions of the work have been adapted earlier, without much controversy.
1. Albert Roussel’s Opera
The great French composer Roussel composed this grand 2 part opera based on Jayasi’s work in 1923 and made the story popular in European countries for generations, though not many Indians are aware of it.
2. Chittoor Rani Padmini
The first big film adaptation was this big budget Tamil historical of 1963, starring Sivaji Ganesan, Vyjanthimala and M.N.Nambiar. The massive sets and dances were the highlights but the film did not do wonders at the box office.
3. Maharani Padmini
This rather low key Hindi historical was released in 1964 starring Anita Guha and remains largely unseen and totally forgettable.
4. Bharat Ek Khoj
This remains the most widely watched version of the epic poem. This popular episode of Shyam Benegal’s series was titled Alauddin Khilji and Padmavat in 1988 and did not face any opposition. Though primarily a TV series, the episode was a short film of sorts which used Rajasthani music and folk dances to carry forward the story. Om Puri as the cruel Khilji remains firmly etched in my memory.
5. Sanjay Bhansali’s Opera
Before this film, Bhansali got a chance to direct Roussell’s opera in 2008. He made a great splash amongst French audience and media. Bhansali gave his larger than life touch to the opera, and its success gave him the confidence to make it into a film.
6. Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Juhar
This massive television serial was made for Sony TV in 2009. This series had huge sets, expensive costumes and a big budget. The casting of popular baddie, Mukesh Rishi as Alauddin was a highlight. However, in spite of all the hype the serial could not generate the desired TRP’s and was stopped midway.
There have been different forms of reproduction of the story of Padmavati and none of them ever got into this much controversy.
Parts of India are still burning and the protestors are venting their anger even by attacking school buses. The Indian government is still not showing sufficient intent to control this reign of terror.
Video of school bus attacked today in Gurugram by anti-Padmavati cowards. This is the aukat of groups like the Karni Sena: attackers of little kids. May the men responsible for this never be able to walk again. pic.twitter.com/4ZFKvJboKc
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) January 24, 2018
We just hope that the biggest ever adaptation of a classic literature, Padmaavat and the freedom of expression of the director and actors is not smothered for political gains and religious vendetta.