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Historian called to review Padmavati already critical of film’s content

Dr BL Gupta, professor of history at the University of Rajasthan, has raised concerns over the focus on the "age-old custom" of jauhar, while clearing that his views are unbiased.

Our Correspondent

Last week, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) approached a panel of historians to review Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati for its historical authenticity. Dr BL Gupta, professor of history at the University of Rajasthan, and one of the panellists, has stated that no distortion of history would be tolerated. 

“I am all for artistic freedom and one's right to express, but that must not happen at the cost of history,” he said while talking to the tabloid, Mid-Day.  

The entire controversy has turned political with a number of state chief ministers and party members openly slamming the film and few also openly issuing death threats against the director and its actors. But Gupta made it clear that they aren’t backing any political party. “It must be understood that as historians, we aren’t backing any political party or artistic view. We will only state historical facts to the best of our knowledge,” he added. 

However, Gupta expressed his displeasure with the filmmaker allegedly mixing facts with fiction, “Bhansali credits Padmavat, an epic poem written in 1540 by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, as his source. But when you make a movie on an incident that highlights the social scenario and the political climate of an era, you are mixing folktale with history. The war between Alauddin Khilji and Rawal Ratan Singh is not fiction. It’s not a concocted story,” he said. 

Padmavati talks of Rani Padmavati and the other Rajput women undergoing the practice of jauhar or self immolation. According to this custom, a woman chooses to end her life over being held captive by the enemies.

Gupta has concerns over the focus on this custom too. “It’s an age-old custom, which, if not seen in the right context, could have grave repercussions in modern times. It's not something that should be romanticised for cinema,” he said. 

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