Jayasi’s ‘Padmavat’: Jais wants Bhansali to restore glory of poet’s birthplace
If a place is waiting more eagerly than anywhere else for the opening of Bollywood movie Padmaavat, it must be Jais — a small town in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district and the birthplace of Sufi poet Malik Mohammed Jayasi.lucknow Updated: Jan 25, 2018 16:20 IST
If a place is waiting more eagerly than anywhere else for the opening of Bollywood movie Padmaavat, it must be Jais — a small town in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district and the birthplace of Sufi poet Malik Mohammed Jayasi.
Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Rs 150-crore movie is based on Padmaavat, a 16th-century poem written by Jayasi, who gives an account of a Rajput queen of Chittor choosing to kill herself rather than be captured by Delhi’s Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji.
Radical Rajput groups want the movie banned, saying it has distorted history and shows queen Padmavati in a bad light. But the controversy over the film, which is set for release on Thursday, has least affected the residents of Jais, also spelt Jayas.
The people of Jais want the producers to share a percentage of the film’s proceeds to be spent to restore the birthplace of the Sufi poet. And also want Bhansali and the entire cast, including Deepika Padukone, who plays the queen, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, to visit the town.
“The film is based on the epic Padmaavat composed by none other than our great Sufi poet Jayasi. Sanjayji and his crew should pay homage to his birthplace and contribute a part of the film’s income in the restoration and beautification of his place of birth,” said Mohammed Shakeel Idris, a Jais native.
Anees Hasan Naaz, a Phd Scholar and government employee, said Jayasi, who died in 1542, was a great Sufi poet and had several works to his credit. Of these the most famous was Padmavat that described the siege of Chittor by Alauddin Khalji in 1303 after he heard of the beauty of queen Padmavati, the wife of Ratansimha. Akhrawat, Akhiri Kalaam and Kanhavat were few other works of the poet.
The residents demanded from the administration an annual “Jais Mahotsav” to celebrate the medieval poet, whose birthplace is located in the town’s Kanchana Muhalla.
The people alleged that successive governments had ignored requests to keep alive the legacy of the poet.
“Then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation of a research centre and library in the name of Jayasi sahib in 1988 and ensured beautification of his birthplace. That was the last development work,” said Ashok Mourya, a trader.
Jais, with a population of around 100,000, hasn’t recorded a single protest against the screening of the film. But most people may not be able to watch the movie as the town’s lone theatre, Chitra Cinema Hall, closed around 10 years ago. And theatres in neighbouring Rae Bareli and Amethi are not going to screen the film.
Sanjay Kumar Khatri, district magistrate, Rae Bareli said the movie won’t be screened in the district. He, however, denied any controversy or any threat relating to the film’s release. There is no unit of Karni Sena in Rae Bareli. However, a group of few persons, led by Vivek Singh Rathore, had submitted a protest memorandum to the district magistrate about 25 days ago. But this was before the changes in the film were made and clearance given for its release from Supreme Court.
Some diehards plan to go to Lucknow, around 110km away. “We want to watch the movie, perhaps the first that has made Jayasi and his birthplace Jais world famous,” said Shanu Khan, a college student.
Many Jais residents believe the row over the film was uncalled for. According to Narendra Bahadur Singh, principal of a government-aided school, people rake up controversies to gain publicity.
“Jayasi’s Padmavat portrays Rani Padmavati as the most graceful lady of her time … there is nothing that hurts the sentiments of any community,” he said, underscoring that the poet’s work was more about Hindu-Muslim unity.
Ajay Kumar Agarwal, another trader in Jais, thought as much. “The protesters haven’t read Jayasi. Threats to blow up theatres are just publicity stunt,” he said.