21 June, 2021

Padmini And The Elite

The more the elite sniggers at pre-modern ideas like Sita or Hanuman or Saraswati and upholds someone like M.F. Husain’s right to disrobe Hindu icons, the more they are pushing the pre-modern masses into the waiting lap of the Hindu Right.

Padmini And The Elite

Like most children of my TV-less generation, I had also read the story of Rani Padmini’s jauhar first in Amar Chitra Katha comics. And for many, their lessons in history are still frozen in frames of children’s comics. This is not to denigrate the comics. They had actually triggered my futile quest for heroes and villains of history. Akbar and Ashoka were great, Rana Pratap was valorous and Padmini committed jauhar. Well, these were the dominant narratives of a nascent nation coming out of 200 years of colonial rule. Gandhi wasn’t yet a villain and members of the Viceroy’s Executive Council heroes. Liberalisation and new capital, foreign and domestic, in education and publishing have changed the public discourse beyond the narratives of Gandhian nationalism of the freedom movement. This new capital has created a new language in the cities, universities and publishing houses that is incomprehensible to the working classes and the countryside.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s costume dramas ought to be banned on aesthetic grounds. Even in the case of...

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