New Delhi: A new book retells the 16th century story of Baz Bahadur, the last Sultan of Malwa, and Roopmati and how their love for classical music brought them together.
“Mandu: The Romance of Roopmati and Baz Bahadur” is written by Malathi Ramachandran and published by Niyogi Books under its Olive Turtle imprint.
The book also depicts the city of Mandu, the river Narmada, and Indian classical music, in which both Baz Bahadur and Roopmati excelled.
Fictional aspects are interwoven in the narrative, including the court intrigues of Baz Bahadur’s mother-in-law Jana Begum. The characters are multi-layered and develop through the story.
Baz Bahadur is troubled by nightmares after having committed fratricide to ascend the throne, and humanised by his love of music, which leads to his passion for Roopmati and unfortunately the final neglect of his army and administration.
Roopmati is initially devoted only to her music but gradually falls in love with Baz Bahadur. The novel is anchored by known historical events, such as the attack on Malwa by Mughal emperor Akbar’s general Adham Khan and the fall of the kingdom in 1561.
The novel ends with Adham Khan’s army overrunning Malwa and Roopmati killing herself. Baz Bahadur is shown in despair when he finds Roopmati’s body, but his story did not end here. He fled to Kandesh, formed an alliance and continued the fight against the Mughals before he was finally defeated and killed in 1562.
These later events are not depicted in the novel, which focuses on the relationship between Roopmati and Baz Bahadur.
The legend of Roopmati and Baz Bahadur has become a part of the very consciousness of Malwa – a story sung by women as they work in the fields or winnow their grain. Roopmati to them, even today, remains the ideal woman – beautiful, gifted and pure of heart.