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These two cinematic reflections of Shivaji can introduce a new thought process of ‘Swarajya’

For the Indian cinema, the upcoming year already seems full of periodical dramas and biopics. Until now, over 10 films including ‘NTR’, ‘Manikarnika’, ‘Panipat’, ‘Thackeray’, ‘Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy’, etc. are reportedly to be released this year. Two of these are already being forecasted as the blockbuster of the year, namely ‘Manikarnika’ and ‘Thackeray’. Both the films promisingly reflect Shivaji’s theory of Swarajya. As one (‘Manikarnika’) will showcase the Maratha queen of Jhansi – Rani Laxmi Bai and her struggles for “Poorna Swarajya”, ‘Thackeray’ will cinematise the journey of great Maharashtrian leader Balasaheb Thackeray and his devotion towards Shivaji’s Swarajya.

‘Manikarnika’ is a periodical drama based on the legend of great Indian freedom fighter Rani Laxmi Bai who was one of the first strugglers against the ‘Raj’ in the struggle of 1857. The film will be released on 25th January, 2019, a day before 70th Republic day of India, whose trailer already seems a hit. The trailer is reflecting the duties and characters performed by Rani Laxmi Bai, i.e., the queen, the mother and a patriot. Performed by Kangana Ranaut, the acting seems a perfect reflection of “Jhansi ki Rani”. Prasoon Joshi have again done a brilliant job, as the dialogue writing seems very strong, factually correct and ideologically on the point. Kangana Ranaut very explicitly delivers this dialogue after the death of her “reel life” husband Gangadhar Rao, “Hum ladenge, aur Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj ke Swaraaj ke sapne ko punah jeevit karenge”. This is translated as, “We will fight and relive Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s dream of Swarajya”. This clearly vanishes the idea of Swarajya coming out of political rumination during the ‘Raj’ era in India. The term ‘Swarajya’ was first developed by the Maratha warrior Shahaji Bhosle who was the army commander of Adil Shah’s forces. He was formerly the Maratha King but being defeated by the Adil Shah accepted servicing him. Shahaji Bhosle kept the fight of ‘Swarajya’ alive through verbal means. As the result of a ‘Swarajya’ oriented upbringing Shahaji Bhosle and Matoshri Jeeja Bai’s son Shivaji Raje Bhosle ignited the war of Swarajya and rest remains history.

Another gift to Maharashtra by the mainstream cinema is ‘Thackeray’. Produced by the Shiv Sainik Member of parliament (Rajya Sabha), Sanjay Raut and family, the film will give a cinematic angle to the legend of Maharashtrian leader Bal Keshav Thackeray, popularly known as “Balasaheb” Thackeray. Many of the critics are putting up questions over the ‘propaganda’ behind the film but none doubts the writing talent of Sanjay Raut. The Rajya Sabha MP have done a great job while giving shape to his political ideal and the dialogues seems flawless and explicitly justified to Balasaheb. While talking about the acting, who can dare to question Nawazuddin Siddique. A number of critics are comparing Nawazuddin’s latest attire and performance to that of Sri Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Sarkar’. In fact, some claims backs ‘Thackeray’ as outshining ‘Sarkar’. The film narrates the story of rise of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra in 60’s. While noticing the inflating immigration of non-Marathas and their domination in the business class and white-collar jobs, Balasaheb analysed the Britishers-set ‘immigration capital’ image of Maharashtra (then Bombay Presidency) as the core reason. Hence, inspired from Shivaji’s idea of ‘Bhumiputra’ and ‘Swarajya’, he advocated for the rights of indigenous Maharashtrians as the first holder and struggled. The decedent leader was considered as a majoritarian statesman by his rivals and some other political scientists, he always denied the allegation of anti-Muslim actions but struggled for the rights of indigenous civil i.e. the Marathas.  The film will also be an eye-opener for those who considers Shivaji as an anti-Muslim administrator but a just Swarajya struggler.

The cinema is not a medium of mere entertainment, it upholds the duty of introducing the society with its roots and ideals and also, comment on its evils. Both of these cinematic reflections of Shivaji can be a medium of the Swarajya renaissance.

Devanshu Mittal

Devanshu is a Mass Communication student from VIPS, IP University.

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