Padmaavat: The real battle in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's epic is between passion and principle

Devansh Sharma

Feb,01 2018 14:57 05 IST

In the final sequence of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period drama Padmaavat, Rani Padmini (Deepika Padukone) delivers a monologue encouraging fellow Rajput women to fight for the satya (truth) in the battle against asatya (falsehood). If seen through a neutral lens, however, the war between Alauddin Khilji and Maharawal Ratan Singh was more one of passion vs principle.

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Shahid Kapoor (as Maharawal Ratan Singh), Deepika Padukone (as Rani Padmavati) and Ranveer Singh (as Sultan Alauddin Khilji) in stills from Padmaavat. Twitter

From time immemorial, passion and principle have often found themselves on the opposite sides of the spectrum. In fact, they are often seen as being in conflict with each other. The tale of Padmaavat is no exception as it pits the principled Rajputs against the passionate Khiljis.

Shahid Kapoor plays Ratan Singh, the king of the Rajputs, and represents the Suryavansh whereas Ranveer Singh, who plays Sultan Alauddin Khilji, represents the Chandravansh. The origin of both these vansh (clans) can be traced back to Manu, arguably the first human to exist on earth and whom the British described as India's Adam. While Manu's son founded the Suryavansh, his daughter laid the foundation of Chandravansh.

Suryavanshis boasted of morally upright characteristic traits like integrity, honour and righteousness (Read: a Rajput never stabs his enemy in the back). On the other hand, Chandravanshis were all about passion, love and temper (Read: Ek jung husn ke naam). While the Suryavanshis used their inherent enlightenment to emit a light of their own, the Chandravanshis eclipsed their luminous counterparts to source their energy.

That is why both these clans, just like the qualities they represent, are destined to go to war. If one plays by the rules all the time, one is bound to compromise on the front of family and love. For example, Rama (a Suryavanshi) had to give up his riches in order to keep his father's word or had to let Sita go since she refused to conform to the agni pareeksha. 

Conversely, if one is driven by passion (which is considered amongst the Seven Deadly Sins), one is bound to break the rules as it knows no boundaries, including those set up by the state or morality. Krishna (a Chandravanshi) never enjoyed the luxuries of inheriting a royal kingdom as he was busy fraternising with gopis or lending his war expertise to the Pandavas, in the capacity of a friend.

Similarly, Ranveer's Khilji loses sight of his expansionist streak once he is smitten by an obsession for Padmavati. He declares a war of passion, where he is willing to go any length in order to gain access to the Rajput queen. From beheading a Brahmin (a no-no in the Rajput rule book) to orchestrating a truce-turned-abduction of Ratan Singh, Khilji lives by the maxim, 'Everything is fair in love and war'. Indeed, for him, love and war were synonymous.

However, Shahid's Ratan Singh dare not flout the Rajput code of conduct. He was a true blue Suryavanshi who does not stab his enemy's back, does not walk away from a fight and even welcomes his arch nemesis for lunch. (Though in a rather convenient inconsistency, he does set his enemy's camp on fire in a backhanded attack during the night) He loses the battle (and also his life) but wins the eternal war of holding his head up high, even if in the heavens.

As far as Khilji is concerned, he wins over Chittor but is unable to get hold of Padmavati who surrenders herself to the pyre in order to preserve her 'honour'. It may appear (in the supposedly 'higher' world that the Rajputs inhabit) that Khilji lost the battle of the immortals. But for a plunderer, to conquer a wealthy province like Chittor is nonetheless a huge victory.

While passion brought prosperity, principle made way for self actualisation. Clearly, both these extremes did not quite achieve what they were striving for. What they did however, was hammer home the point that both these swords must co-exist in the scabbard of endless scuffle.

Published Date: Feb 01, 2018 14:57 PM | Updated Date: Feb 01, 2018 14:57 PM