A descendant of Peshwa Baji Rao has expressed serious discontent with the way the legendary Maratha general and his second wife Mastani have been presented in a dialogue in the upcoming Hindi movie Panipat, and has decided to move court against the filmmaker Ashutosh Gowarikar.
Ahead of the release of the film Panipat — which is based on the historical Third Battle of Panipat fought between the Marathas and the founder of Afghanistan’s Durrani empire, Ahmad Shah Abdali in 1761 — the eighth-generation descendant of the Peshwa, Nawabzada Shadab Ali Bahadur, has served notices to producers Sunita Gowarikar and Rohit Shelatkar, and director Ashutosh Gowarikar to either remove the ‘controversial’ dialogues or make necessary changes.
According to Shadab Ali, Gowariker has introduced a dialogue in Panipat that defames Mastani as well as the Peshwa.
“The particular dialogue in the movie — ‘whenever Peshwa returns from battleground, he brings one Mastani’ — is in bad taste and highly objectionable. The way it has been used, presents a bad picture of not only Mastani Sahiba but also of the Peshwa to our audience and to young minds unaware of Maratha history. Mastani Bai was the bona fide wife of Peshwa Baji Rao and not just another woman,” Shadab Ali, who now lives in Bhopal, told Firstpost.
“After seeing that portion in the trailer of the movie, I have sent notices to the producers and the director to remove that portion or make necessary changes. If they don’t respond, I’ll move court against them,” he added.
In the trailer of the movie Panipat, Parvati Bai (played by Kriti Sanon) tells her husband and protagonist of the film Sadashiv Rao Bhau (Arjun Kapoor): “Maine suna hai Peshwa jab akele muhim par jaate hain, to ek Mastani ke saath lautte hain (I’ve heard whenever Peshwa goes to battle all alone, he returns with a Mastani).
Peshwa Baji Rao (1700-1740) married Mastani, the daughter of Bundelkhand ruler Chhatrasal, and returned to his capital Pune with his new wife, after one of his many war campaigns. The couple had a son — Shamsher Bahadur, the Nawab of Banda — who played a crucial role in the Battle of Panipat along with Baji Rao’s nephew Sadashiv Rao Bhau, who had led the Marathas in the battle.
Citing family history, Shadab Ali said that Sadashiv Rao and Shamsher Bahadur (also called Sardar Shamsher Bahadur Peshwa) didn’t have much of an age difference between them, and grew up together. In the Battle of Panipat, Shamsher Bahadur, who fought valiantly, was grievously injured and later died. Baji Rao, the sixth Peshwa (the Maratha Empire’s Prime Minister) had fought 40 battles in his 20-year military career and won them all.
Shadab Ali, the son of Nawab Ashfaq Ali Bahadur, traces his lineage to Shamsher Bahadur, son of Mastani. In his notice to Panipat’s makers, he has asked them to justify several points, including:
1. The way Mastani’s name has been used doesn’t represent the status of a queen. The relationship between the Peshwa and Mastani has been shown in a disgraceful manner.
2. Were the names of Mastani and Peshwa Baji Rao used to gain the attention of the audience, especially after Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie Bajirao Mastani (2015) became a hit?
3. Another lead character, Shamsher Bahadur, has been shown wearing a dress and a cap used by ‘shayars’ (Urdu poets), whereas he used to wear a turban (pagdi) like the Peshwas.
“Mastani sahiba had died 21 years prior to the third Battle of Panipat. There’s no logic in using her name along with the Peshwa’s. It has been done in an indecorous manner to gain cheap popularity,” says Shadab Ali. “Nawab Shamsher Bahadur was a tall, handsome man and a great warrior like his father. He always wore pagdi like the Peshwas. In the film he has been shown in the attire and cap of a shayar.”
Ali lamented that complaints to the CBFC and moving court against filmmakers for faulty presentation of historical facts yields little.
“We’ll hold a press conference in Mumbai soon. If, after the release of the movie, we find anything further that is objectionable, we’ll file a defamation suit,” he said.
Panipat is scheduled to release in theatres on 6 December 2019.