The recent film ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’ is based on the life of Tanhaji Malusare who used to be a close military aide of Shivaji Bhosale. The credit of bringing the story of a common soldier’s family goes to the filmmaker, Om Raut.
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The movie – ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’ has had a splendid run and has been widely acclaimed. However, experts state that historical facts have been tampered using so-called cinematic freedom.
There are eleven scenes in the movie ‘Tanhaji’, which are historically incorrect, according to experts.
Setumadhavrao Pagdi says that all the battles were political in the region and people were not really divided into Hindu and Muslims. And if that was the case then all Hindus should have gone towards Shivaji Maharaj and all Muslims, towards Mughals.
However, historically this did not happen. Udaybhan was a Rajput fighting on behalf of Aurangzeb and along with him, 500 Rajput soldiers lost their lives in that war. Contemporary historian Krishnaji Anant Sabhasad wrote, “500 Rajputs were killed.”
In the film, Udaybhan and his army are shown in Muslim clothes, to show that the battle was fought between Hindus and Muslims. This clearly is an attempt to polarize Hindus and Muslims.
In the medieval period, the peasants faced injustice and the exploitation from the erstwhile administration. Even though the central power at the village level was in the hands of the Nizam, Mughal and Adil Shah, the watandars (landlords) and the mirasdars (aristocratic landowner) handled the administration.
The film especially shows that the battle between Tanhaji and Udaybhan who are in saffron versus green (the religious colour of the Muslims) respectively. An attempt has been made to use the idea of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Tanhaji.
In this film, Tanhaji’s character constantly uses the idiom ‘Marda Mavla’, which means ‘a powerful soldier’. However, there is no historical evidence of these words.
History says that in those days the word ‘Mavla’ was used. Still, the word ‘man’ has been used in the film. This shows the mindset of gender discrimination. It discriminates between women, men and transgenders.
Modern science has proved that one’s gender has no effect on its quality or achievements. Feminists say that men are brave, powerful and intelligent just like women and transgenders.
In particular, the word ‘Mavla’ comes from the maternal tradition of Mavalai from the Indrayani valley. The great scholar DD Kosambi has mentioned this in his book ‘Myth and Reality’. Therefore, the word ‘Mavla’ was used to honour women. Adding the word ‘man’ with it is an insult to women and transgenders
The film has shown a scene in which the Muslim commander enters the fort and prevents Jijamata from performing a puja. The commander asks them to clear the fort. During this time, Jijamata swears that she will not wear any footwear until the Marathas win Kondhana again. This scene has no mention in history.
From where did the ‘Om’ sign come?
Shivaji Maharaj’s flag was saffron-coloured but he worked for the welfare of all people. He was not involved in religious animosity. He did not demolish Mosques nor did he hate people of other religions.
There is no historical proof that says that there was an ‘Om’ symbol in the flag at the time of Shivaji Maharaj. Also, there is no historical proof that Tanhaji’s shield had a mark of ‘Om’ on it. But, it is shown in the film that there is a mark of ‘Om’ in the shield that Udayban breaks.
Shivaji Maharaj on God and Pooja
Shivaji Maharaj was a rationalist. He used to rely on karma. He never saw a fortune-teller to know the future. According to Krishnaji Anant Sabhasad, when Shivaji Maharaj’s son Rajaram was born on his stomach, he said that ‘this boy will make the rulers of Delhi fall face down.’
They built sea forts. They broke the Indus blockade by attacking Bednur by sea. Jijamata did not become ‘Sati’ but acted bravely. This shows that Jijamata and Shivaji Maharaj were rationalists. He was not orthodox and was not bound by the worship of God. He trusted his traditions but never accepted wrong practices.
He used to respect traditional folk deities like Tulja Bhavani, Mahadev, etc. But he had the maturity to understand the truth that hard work is needed to achieve his goal.
Tryambak Shejwalkar, who studied the life of Shivaji Maharaj, says, “Shivaji Maharaj was not a conservative but a progressive reformist. He was indeed a believer, but more importantly, he was intelligent and rational.
He was not obsessed with the worship of God in which people resort to practices to get something. When the fact is this, the film shows Jijamata and Shivaji Maharaj worshipping continuously and depicts incorrect history. ”
Where did the nose ring come from?
Even if we give some cinematic freedom, how can Tanhaji’s wife be wearing a nose ring? The medieval Maratha women never wore nose rings.
From the philosophical point of view of scholar Sharad Patil, one can say that this film emphasizes on Brahmanical principles.
Tanhaji’s Big Palace
A big palace belonging to Tanhaji is also shown in the film. Originally, Shivaji Maharaj created the state (Swarajya) by mobilizing soldiers from ordinary families. Tanhaji was also a commander who came from a humble background. He was not from any feudal lineage.
Tanhaji throws crutches on Shivaji Maharaj
Tanhaji Malusare had deep affection for Shivaji Maharaj and Swarajya. He also respected Jijamata. He was a patriot. However, this does not mean that he will insult Shivaji Maharaj by throwing crutches in front of him. There is no historical reference to this incident.
Malusare and Chisel
There is also no historical reference that when Tanhaji and Udaybhan are at the height of the war, Tanhaji lost his right hand. According to Krishnaji Anant Sabhasad, Tanhaji’s shield was definitely broken.
After a fierce battle, both die, after which Shelar Malusare fights bravely. However, this is not shown in the film. There is too much imagination in the film rather than reality. Filmmakers could also use cinematic freedom to shed some light on Shelar Mama Tanhaji’s uncle.
A myth has also been coined that Pisal was a traitor. It is shown in the film that Chandraji Pisal betrayed Shivaji Maharaj and helped the Mughals. This incident is not related to history and is imaginary. It defames the Pisal family
‘Ek Maratha Lakh Maratha’
‘Ek Maratha Lakh Maratha’ means a Maratha, equivalent to a million of Marathas, this slogan was first used in the rallies of the Maratha Revolution. In fact, this slogan was invented only few years ago.
However, the filmmaker and director used this slogan in Tanhaji’s dialogue of the 17th century. Therefore, linking a modern concept to history reduces the historical seriousness of this film.
People of all castes and religions contributed to the struggle for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and “Swarajya”. During the siege of Panhala, Shivaji Kashid took the form of Shivaji Maharaj in the enemy’s area, where he had to give his life for Swarajya. At that time, he embraced death with laughter.
When Shivaji Maharaj went to meet Afzal Khan, Syed Banda tried to attack him and Jivaji Mahale then cut the man’s hand mid-air.
People like Shivaji Kashid and Jivaji Mahale, who risked their lives for Shivaji Maharaj, were from the barber community. This is a fact. Yet in the film Tanhaji, a barber is shown betraying Shivaji Maharaj and helping Udaybhan. This character has nothing to do with history.
The characters of Shivaji Maharaj and Tanhaji in the film do not accurately represent the real historical personalities as they look very dull. Udayabhan has been better depicted. Shivaji Maharaj and Tanhaji were strict, agile and strong but at times they appear vulnerable in the film.
Overall, cinematic freedom has been carelessly used to depict Maratha history, in the film. This is actually degrading Tanhaji Malusare’s fight for the welfare of the people and using it for the agenda of nationalism.
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Via: BBC. Research By: Shrimant Kokate