Deemed to be the famous beauty of Chittor, Rani Padmavati was respected, loved, chided, looked up to as an inspiration and lusted upon. One knows about Rani Padmavati or Rani Padmini through history books and oral tales, especially in the princely States of Rajasthan. The story and her life are not unheard of, but what sets Chandramouli’s novel apart from the rest are the vivid character sketches. One gets to know who the ‘Burning Queen ‘was. The readers cannot help but appreciate the actions of Allauddin Khalji as a ruler, strategist and an invader. Maharaja Ratan Singh too has been portrayed in many shades through the book.
Rani Padmavati has been highlighted as a woman of substance; knowledgeable, courteous, fearless, fierce and knowing how best to react under circumstances. Her unique ability to befriend people from all classes and present herself in the most respectable way to the Greatest Royalties made her loved and respected among all. Her abilities to gather knowledge from the inner sanctum of the Rajput rulers and from the gossips among the maids quenched her thirst to gather political knowledge and keep her up to date with the world beyond. In this sense, she was given an equal foothold in the patriarchal conservative world.
Ratan Singh, the ruler of Chittor was a kind-hearted man who loved his subjects and took immense care of them, even fighting for their rights whenever required. However, he was not far-sighted and did not have the iron fist with which a ruler should have ruled his Kingdom. His principles, ego, love for his wife and his subjects captured him within the walls of his city and prevented him from curtailing the advancement of foreign invasion.
Allauddin Khalji was a man most fearful, yet respected and admired. His ruthless ruling and strategic planning made him victorious each time; almost equalling him to Alexander-The Great. His unique ability to hunt down traitors, make full use of their disloyalty and later dispose of them in the most unthinkable ways invokes a feeling of disgust and yet makes him a fearfully respected character.
The discrepancies between the various Rajput clans whether it be their ego, their thirst for power, their want to prove themselves mightier than the other; prevented them from standing up against their common enemy together. This inequality became a major reason for the downfall of the Rajput’s. Interestingly, the famous tale of Khalji’s will to see the Queen and her condition of seeing merely her reflection was a missing instance in the novel. Nevertheless, the novel would not disappoint you and you would like reading it. For me, reading Rani Padmavati coincided with the release of the much controversial and much-awaited movie Padmaavat by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I could almost visualize the characters coming alive in front of my eyes.
Rani Padmavati is a beautiful re-telling of the age-old legend. What had been told orally through stories, poems, and performances; now finds a place between the pages of Chandramouli’s book. It is available at your nearest bookstores or can be purchased through Snapdeal, Amazon, and Flipkart.
*Disclaimer: I would like to Thank Author Anuja Chandramouli who sent me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.