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Padmavati & mirror: Skewed view from Chittorgarh fort

A 50-minute light-&-sound show at Chittorgarh Fort’s Kumbha Mahal run daily by the RTDC also mentions that Padmavati’s reflection was shown in a mirror to Khilji.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Nov 24, 2017, 10.16 AM IST
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The local women leading the protests walk inside the Chittor Fort daily with swords to pay obeisance at the Jauhar Kund, where Rani Padmini is said to have committed suicide by entering into a fire along with other women.
The local women leading the protests walk inside the Chittor Fort daily with swords to pay obeisance at the Jauhar Kund, where Rani Padmini is said to have committed suicide by entering into a fire along with other women.
In the 1965 movie, Guide, Dev Anand watches Waheeda Rehman from a mirror inside Chittorgarh Fort’s Padmini Mahal as she dances to the song ‘Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai’ below near the fort’s Jal Mahal. Though these mirrors are said to have been installed after Independence, tourist guides at India’s longest fort have for years told tourists that these mirrors are the ones from which Rani Padmini had shown her reflection to Mughal invader Alauddin Khilji centuries ago.

That is not all. A stone plaque of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Padmini Mahal, which has been there for years, also recounts this belief. A 50-minute light-andsound show at Chittorgarh Fort’s Kumbha Mahal run daily by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) also mentions that Padmavati’s reflection was shown in a mirror to Khilji and that while her husband and the Chittor king, Rana Ratan Singh, was at one point furious over Khilji’s proposal, he ultimately agreed as a matter of statecraft. So while ASI and RTDC propagated this belief for years to domestic and foreign tourists, the film Padmavati has suddenly made the Rajasthan government and an assortment of protesters belatedly realise that Rajput pride stands hurt.

Two out of the four mirrors at the fort were smashed by the Rajput Karni Sena activists some months ago, prompting the ASI to close down the mirror room in Padmini Mahal to tourists. Karni Sena activists stormed the small ASI office inside the fort on November 19 demanding that the ASI remove the stone plaque that mentions Rani Padmini's reflection being shown in a mirror to Khilji. They also demanded that the light-and-sound show be scrapped. The ASI has yet to decide what to do with its stone plaque but the local BJP MP, CP Joshi, has now jumped into the controversy and assured that the script of the light-and-sound show will be immediately changed to omit “inappropriate” references regarding Padmini's image being shown to Khilji.

Protesters, however, continue to lay siege to the main Padanpol gate of the Chittorgarh Fort, which has emerged as the epicentre of protests over the film. Effigies of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and actor Deepika Padukone are hung from the walls of the fort at Padanpole gate and a chain hunger strike is on for two weeks now. Activists of Karni Sena, Jauhar Smriti Sansthan, Jauhar Shatrani Manch and Jai Mewar Sanstha are competing with each other to lead the protest here and activists of each grouping are invariably part of the group that sits on a fast daily demanding a country-wide ban on the film.

“Yeh sarv samaj ka gussa aur faisla hai (this is the anger and decision of the entire community),” is their constant refrain.

The local women leading the protests walk inside the Chittor Fort daily with swords to pay obeisance at the Jauhar Kund, where Rani Padmini is said to have committed suicide by entering into a fire along with other women.

TV cameras faithfully capture them and relay the images. In Jaipur, regional TV channels have discovered a plethora of local historians to speak on the issue in debates held in Jaipur’s parks and traffic roundabouts. The erstwhile royals of Rajasthan have their own take.

Supreme Court to hear plea against film’s foreign release
New Delhi: Supreme Court will hear on November 28 a fresh plea on the overseas release of Padmavati, days after it had refused to interfere with the movie’s release in India. The movie has created a controversy with Rajput fringe groups opposing its release without first deleting certain scenes. A three-judge bench led by CJI Dipak Misra on Monday had refused to wade into the controversy on the ground that CBFC was yet to clear the movie. On Thursday, however, advocate Manoharlal Sharma urged the bench to prevent the film’s release abroad. The CJI said the bench would not hear any fresh application, but if he filed a writ petition on this cause of action, the court would hear it on Tuesday. - OPB
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