Rani Padmavati. The name itself is an enigma, like the Rajput queen who inspired generations of litterateur that dedicated pages in writing odes to her beauty. Even six months ago if one were to ask me what came to my mind when I hear that name, I would say Abanindranath Tagore’s Rajkahini. The fictional account of the tales of Rajputana was a companion in our growing up years, and has shaped our worldview of the Rajputs.
Thanks to the charade in the name of protests last year, before the theatrical release of a film on Padmavati, and the drama that ensued, the Rajput queen has now become a household name in India. Whether or not people have read about her, they have an opinion on how she should be depicted in films and books. In times like these, Anuja Chandramouli’s book is a reprieve from the constant moral policing and sanctimonious preaching that history has now become.
Like always, Anuja Chandramouli gives us an insight into the characters, that were hitherto unexplored. They are not cast in black and white. The balancing act by the author, desisting from glorifying Rajputs (or vilifying Khilji) deserves special mention. The task of retelling a story that has been told many times enough in the past, comes with inherent risk of failing to stand out of the others. A fresh perspective adds a charm to a narrative that no amount of marketing blitzkrieg can achieve.
The free-flowing narrative, crisp writing, and emphatic delivery ensure that the book is unputdownable. The pages keep turning themselves, until the last word of the novel is processed in our brain. Chandramouli’s book carves its niche in this herd of stories, novels, poems and plays dedicated to the ‘Burning Queen of Chittor’.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
P.S. The review copy of the book was provided by the author
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