Play to ‘set record straight’ on ‘Jauhar Rani Padmini’: She did exist, Khilji never saw her
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Play to ‘set record straight’ on ‘Jauhar Rani Padmini’: She did exist, Khilji never saw her

Jaipur-based fashion designer Kirti Rathore has written a play to present what she affirms the true story of the Mewar queen.

jaipur Updated: Jan 15, 2018 22:34 IST
Rakesh Goswami
Rakesh Goswami
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Mewar royals,Padmini,Padmavati
Kirti Rathore in titular role of Rani Padmini.

A 16th-century poem immortalised the legend of Padmavati, and now a modern-day play to set the record straight on the Rajput queen of Chittor.

Kirti Rathore, a 32-year-old fashion designer in Jaipur, wrote the play “Jauhar Rani Padmini” recently to present what she affirms the true story of the Mewar queen, who’s at the centre of a controversy after Bollywood director Sanjay Leela Bhansali made a movie set on the legendary royal.

“I want to set the record straight and show that the queen did exist and Delhi sultan Alauddin Khilji never saw her, not even on a mirror,” said the amateur playwright on Monday.

The Rs150-crore movie is based on Padmavat, a poem written by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi about 500 years ago, who gives an account of a Rajput queen of Chittor choosing to kill herself rather than be captured by Muslim ruler Khilji.

Kirti Rathore with the descendants of the Mewar royals in Udaipur. (HT Photo)

Historians are divided over whether the queen ever existed. Many Rajputs believe she did exist and accuse filmmaker Bhansali of portraying her in a bad light.

Rathore met descendants of the Mewar royals in Udaipur with the first draft of her script to avoid what she said historical discrepancies.

“I visited Mahendra Singhji, a descendent of the Chittor queen, on December 26 to get the script vetted by him. I wanted the play to portray the true story of Rani Padmini,” she said.

After the green light from the former Mewar royals, rehearsals for the two-hour play, which includes three war sequences, are on at Rathore’s studio in Jaipur. A mammoth cast of 70 artistes rehearse their lines every day between 4pm and 6pm. The first show will be held on January 30 at Birla Auditorium.

Rathore plays the lead role of the Chittor queen in the play.

“I am a Rajput and when I heard people question the existence of Rani Padmini, who committed jauhar to save herself from an invader, my blood boiled. So I sat down to write a script,” she said. Jauhar is the medieval practice of a woman throwing herself on to a flaming pyre to save her honour.

She decided to stage a play because she doesn’t have money to make a movie. The play will be converted into a web series and a documentary for an infotainment channel.

“We cannot allow future generations to be fed wrong history through a Hindi film,” Rathore said.

The censor board, which cleared Bhansali’s movie with several changes, had invited the former royals to be part of the certification process. But Singh’s son Vishvaraj wanted some facts cleared before the family could take the offer. The board never got back to them, they alleged.

Many people from the Rajput community are also upset with the choice of costume in Bhansali’s movie, especially in the Ghoomar song in which actor Deepika Padukone, who plays the queen, wears a dress that leaves her midriff bare.

“The costumes in Padmaavat have Gujarati influence. The Rajputs did not wear the costumes shown in the film’s trailer. My play will have authentic Rajput costumes,” Rathore said.

The play will have live music and LED screens for the audience to “live the experience”.

Rajput Sabha president Giriraj Singh Lotwara recently released the poster of the play that claims to be the community’s answer to Bhansali’s “distorted version” set for release on January 25.

First Published: Jan 15, 2018 22:29 IST