Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming Padmavati is starring Ranveer Singh as ‘Alauddin Khilji’, who was considered the most powerful ruler of Khilji dynasty of Delhi Sultanate.
It is unclear, whether Bhansali has portrayed Khilji as a ‘cruel and barbaric’ ruler, however, his negative character is apparent in film’s teaser.
Is Padmavati based on a fabricated story?
Malik Muhammad Jayasi had written a poem ‘Padmavat’ in 1540, and many historians don’t consider it as a reliable source. The poem mentions how Khilji fell in love with queen Padmavati and decided to lay siege to Chittor fort to take her away.
Padmavat was written in Awadhi language and came more than 200 years after Khilji’s death. The large chronological gap in poem’s composition is enough to contribute to the inaccuracy of Jayasi’s text.
Checking historical facts:
Tasneem Suhrawardy, professor of history at Delhi’s St Stephen’s College, says that Khilji’s siege of Chittor is a fact because of his imperialist and expansionist policy and not due to his falling in Padmavati’s love.
“There are many errors in Jayasi’s work and many details given by him do not apply to Alauddin’s period. In some places, the details seem to be about the Khiljis of Malwa who ruled in the 15th century, rather than about Alauddin. Some aspects even correspond to Sher Shah,” she added, The Quint quotes.
About Khilji’s cruel portrayal:
Ziauddin Barani, a 13-14th-century chronicler in the Delhi Sultanate “had his own reasons and biases for portraying Khilji like this, as Khilji had a different perception in regards to the religion and governance,” the history professor said.
“In Barani’s accounts, Alauddin does come across as a strong ruler who successfully repulsed the Mongols and established a strong state,” Suhrawardy said.
Khilji as an able administrator:
Suhrawardy, along with Sandhya Sharma, a medieval history professor at Vivekananda College, Delhi University, focusing on his reforms and able administrations said, Khilji had introduced a system of land assessment for revenue collection based on measurement. He also established a network of state granaries for the regular supply of commodities.
Suhrawardy also called Khilji’s military reforms, northwest policy and the economic regulations as the fascinating aspects of that time. According to the professor, Khilji was the one “who could take decisions benefiting the people, irrespective of the fact that they were permitted in the Shariat or not.”
Although the movie is an artistic work when it shapes the ideologies of masses regarding the history, how far is it correct to portray a personality in a negative stereotype?