Office Location

Delhi:

E-5, 2nd Floor, Defence Colony
New Delhi - 110024
Tel : 011-24336744

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Mumbai:

Office No. 1410, 14th Floor, Maker Chamber V, Nariman Point, Mumbai
Tel : +91 22-22873499

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Gurgaon:

Level 18, One Horizon Center, Golf Course Road, DLF Phase 5, Sector 43, Gurgaon 122002, India
Tel : +91 124 668 8146 / +91 124 668 8147

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Mumbai (Entertainment and Media Practice)

Office No. 213, 2nd Floor, A-wing, Crystal Plaza, Andheri Link Road, Andheri (W), Mumbai.
Tel : 022-62360762

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Mumbai (Corporate and Transactional Practice)

909/A, Capital Building, Bandra Kurla Complex, East Mumbai- 400098

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Bangalore:

21/2, 1st Main Road,
Opp Indian overseas Bank,
Gandhinagar,
Bengaluru - 560009

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Kanpur:

77A, Cantt., Kanpur - 208004

Creativity or Distortion of Historical Facts?

By Salome Bodaji, Associate

Time and again there comes a movie that invokes a protest of historical facts being distorted. The question here lies that whether these are distorted facts or are they merely the creativity and the interpretation of the filmmaker and can a liberal society accept the distortion of history for the sake of entertainment? The main aim of a film is entertainment, if a movie is made solely based on historical facts it would be a documentary. There has been a lot of hue and cry when filmmakers have made movies based on historical figures like Jodha Akbar, Mughal-E-Azam, Bajirao Mastani, and Padmavati etc. K Asif’s blockbuster Mughal-E-Azam portrayed Salim’s rebellion against his father Emperor Akbar for his love Anarkali whereas the story of Anarkali or her existence in history has been questioned by historians a number of times and they have mentioned that Anarkali was nothing but a ‘fairy tale fiction’ but none of this affected the movie goers and the film ended up being a huge success.

In the past, the Karni Sena in Rajasthan had stopped the screening of Ashutosh Gowariker’s ‘Jodha Akbar’ back in 2008 and in a recent event, they had violently disrupted the shooting of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmavati' in Jaipur and further went on to say that they will protest any distortion of historical facts. They claimed that Sanjay Leela Bhansali was allegedly showing a love story between Alaudin Khilji and Rani Padmavati and that the Rani was worshipped by them hence they would not tolerate distortion of facts at any cost. Rani Padmavati’s life and death has always been the subject of many legends, ballads and many historians suggest that Padmavati was merely a mythological figure that Sufi poet Malik Muhammad commemorated in his poem.

The question is that what is creativity and what is distortion of facts. Everyone has their own views and their own interpretation on historical facts. This has been observed in the judgment passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court involving the movie ‘Bajirao Mastani’. The petition was filed by the descendents of the Peshwa, stating that certain portions in the movie were highly objectionable and if the movie was allowed to be released with these scenes, it would tarnish the image of the Petitioner’s family. The Petitioner approached the Court under Article 29 of the Constitution in view that they had the valuable right to protect the honour of their family and the release of the movie would cause irreparable damage to the family name. The Court stated that there was no prima facie case established in this case and that the Petitioner had an alternate remedy whereby the Petitioner could follow a statutory process prescribed under the Cinematograph Act, 1952. A statutory Board was established under this Act that had the power to examine various aspects in the film. And due to this, the Court dismissed the Petition.
Many objections were raised regarding the portrayal of Peshwas and their wives in the movie such as the song ‘Pinga’ in the movie where people stated that women of the Pehwa household did not dance in public and that widows did not bare their bald heads etc. The court held that such minor details are not distortion of facts they are merely the creativity that is shown by the filmmaker.

Every person in the country has the freedom of expression and such creativity is a part of such freedom. What was shown in movies like Mughal-E-Azam, Bajirao Mastani etc. is definitely not distortion of facts. It is merely a representation of a filmmaker’s version of history in a creative and entertaining manner as there isn’t just one single version history and such versions defer from person to person and even differ region wise. Therefore it is not fair to put a curb on the creative expression of a filmmaker on the basis that the film is not completely in line with the historical facts.