The saffron brigade including a union minister has come out strongly against distortion of ‘historical’ facts in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmavati” and certain elements have even gone as far as demanding a ban on the movie. More recently, a legislator has reportedly threatened to set ablaze theatres that screen the movie. Whether or not the hullabaloo surrounding the movie is justified, if an artist deserves to have their creative space and other such questions have been discussed at length already. But the question that beckons an answer most urgently is why do certain sections of the country have such a strong fascination with historical tales?
Chronicles of history are often, if not always, diluted or distorted by a bias or a healthy dose of the narrator’s own perception, beliefs and interpretations. It may almost be implausible to conceive even written or recorded history as factually accurate, let alone orally passed down through stories or folklore.
A report of a war, for example, can originate primarily from three sources. Either the winning side, the losing side or from a third perspective which owes allegiance to neither of the former two. While the narration from the two sides involved in the conflict would inevitably be prejudiced, the description from an outsider’s point of view would lack insightfulness.
If we take Mahabharata to be an event of history and had the Kauravas penned the epic, there is no doubt it would be voiced very differently. It could have even been narrated as the tale of the mighty Kauravas who were undone by the deceit of the Pandavas as opposed to the idea of the ‘good’ Pandavas prevailing over ‘evil’ Kauravas.
The twisting and twirling of history, as a matter of fact, is being done with each passing minute. The news before it is printed on paper or broadcast on television has already become a part of history and it has already been distorted beyond recognition.
The events in Kashmir, for example, are reported by the Indian media in one way, the Pakistani media in another and by the local Kashmiri media from a different point of view. Even the international media has its own narration. The variation in all these narratives is so vast that if one was to read them separately they would all seem to be different incidents altogether. Similar is the variation in history books printed in India and those published in Pakistan.
So, I have arrived at the understanding that the two words, ‘historical’ and ‘facts’, when used together, make a phrase that should not even exist.