Readomania is publishing a new book, titled Padmavati: The Queen Tells her Own Story by author Sutapa Basu based on the life of the 13th century goddess-like queen of Chittor.
Despite falling in the genre of historical fiction, the narration is quite contemporary as is the delineation of its chief protagonist, Padmavati. Mrinalini Rao, a journalist, is visiting Chittorgarh to discover the truth about the existence of Queen Padmavati of Chittor. She meets a local girl who divulges a family secret. Eventually, Mrinalini uncovers an astounding story about Princess Padmavati. It is a tale told in the splendid cadences of a legendary queen who was larger than life. Nevertheless, it is a complete work of fiction narrated against the backdrop of historical events that took place in the 13th century.
The author, Sutapa Basu, is unequivocal on the fact that globally there is an acute dearth of Indian historical fiction written in English language despite the rich heritage that India lays claim to. She believes, it is essential that the world’s readers should become conversant with India’s remarkable kings, leaders, teachers and reformers. However, according to her, the chronicled and actual game changers have been the queens of India. They have stood centre stage in our country’s history since times immemorial. These brave and brilliant women despite living amidst difficult physical and social conditions, managed to change the course of history during their lifetimes. Basu declares that the personality of Padmavati has intrigued and enthralled her for a very long time, right from her schooldays. So when she decided to make a foray into the world of historical fiction, intuitively her sights were set on this fascinating and legendary queen.
Of course, a great deal of research and study was necessary before she began work. Basu says, “I found very little information but discovered two academic books written on the topic, Rani Padmini, The Heroine of Chittor by BK Karkra. Pub: Rupa Publications India Private Ltd and The Many Lives of a Rajput Queen, Historic Pasts in India c.1500-1900 by Ramya Sreenivasan. Pub: University of Washington Press. I read these well-researched treatises. Both gave excellent information of 13th century historical background, about the history of Chittorgarh, Alauddin Khalji and briefly about Rawal Ratan Singh and his family history. They gave references to James Tod’s Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan and numerous Hindu literary works. Yet, both of them did not give any clear evidence about the origins or existence of Queen Padmavati. Even Amir Khusro, who chronicled Aluaddin Khalji’s campaigns had recorded the siege of Chittor and the jauhar but did not mention Queen Padmavati or the Sultan’s obsession with her. I visited the National Mission of Manuscripts but they did not have anything. I also visited the museums at Udaipur and Chittorgarh which were excellent historical studies, but other than tales, myths and legends, there was no deductible, conclusive evidence of the queen’s life. Finally, I downloaded PDFs of Malik Mohammad Jayasi’s translated epic, Padmawat, Gora-Badal Choupai and other works in Hindi to glean some information. But these were literary works and no author claims the basis of historicity for their work.”
To get the right regional equivalents and the correct terms of address during the historical period the tale is set in, the author referred dictionaries and regional sources. A glossary of regional words appears in the book. Words used in the narration have been verified and authenticated by regional experts. Museums and touring Udaipur and Chittorgarh gave her references for customs, dress, social and administrative systems of those times. In that regard, the book, Padmavati, to a great extent reflects the historical period.
Padmavati, the book, tells an extraordinary story about an extraordinary queen. A heroine of gripping adventures as well the subject of veneration then and now, Padmavati, the chief protagonist of the novel, is so magnificent that she dwarfs all others. The book conceives in Padmavati a larger than life character. She is not just exquisitely beautiful, but wise, astute, skilled, loving, generous, courageous, ethical, an administrative strategist, excellent swordswoman and spiritually evolved. She is a queen whom people should worship even today.
*This article is contributed by Readomania team
Author(s): Sutapa Basu
Release: December 2017
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