This paper examines the tropes through which the Hindi (Bollywood) historical films Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018) create idealised pasts on screen that speak to Hindu nationalist politics of present-day India. Bajirao Mastani is based on a popular tale of love, between Bajirao I (1700-1740), a powerful Brahmin general, and Mastani, daughter of a Hindu king and his Iranian mistress. The relationship was socially disapproved because of Mastani`s mixed parentage. The film distorts India`s pluralistic heritage by idealising Bajirao as an embodiment of Hindu nationalism and portraying Islam as inimical to Hinduism. Padmaavat is a film about a legendary (Hindu) Rajput queen coveted by the Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji (ruled from 1296-1316). Alauddin was a historical character. Padmavati is not mentioned in any historical sources. But the legend has been viewed as history and used for political mobilisation of Hindus during the colonial era.The film projects a Manichean narrative of evil Muslims, represented by Alauddin and noble Rajputs represented by Padmavati`s husband king Ratansen. Both films thus suit a contemporary Hindu nationalist agenda.
"Visual Grandeur, Imagined Glory: Identity Politics and Hindu Nationalism in Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat,"
Journal of Religion & Film: Vol. 22:
3, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/jrf/vol22/iss3/9