In the latest installment of history repeating itself as politics, particularly just before the movie’s release, the Gurjars and Rajputs of Rajasthan have slashed swords at Akshay Kumar’s upcoming star Prithviraj, after the late king.
The Gurjars demand that Prithviraj Chauhan be depicted in the film as the King of Gurjar, while the Rajputs, who also claim Prithviraj, want a title that reflects itself: “Samrat Prithviraj”.
At a press conference in Jaipur on May 20, Akhil shared the Bharatiya Veer Gurjar Mahasabha as “proof” of his claims, a Sanskrit text called “Prithvirajavijamahakavya”. They said that the text written by the Kashmiri poet Jayanak, who worked at the court of Prithviraj Chauhan, in 1191-21, contains numerous references to the Gurjar caste in the context of the king.
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They cited another epic, Prithviraj Rasu by Chand Bardai, written around 1400 in the Bingal script (a mixture of Braj and Rajasthani), saying that it referred to Prithviraj’s father Someshvar as Gurjar.
Among other evidence, representatives of Gurjar Mahasabha said they submitted RTIs to the CBSE and the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) to inquire about the Rajput sect’s claim to Prithviraj, and got “unreasonable responses”.
Anurag Gurjar, the national chief of Gurjar Mahasabha, told The Indian Express that they had sent a notice to the filmmakers and contacted writer and director Chandraprakash Dwivedi, but received no response.
Manish Bhargad, chief of Mahasabha state, said that since last year, they had raised the issue at different levels in multiple states, including “Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh”, and in Rajasthan with Chief Minister Ashok Gilot.
Accusing the filmmakers of appeasing both classes, he said “we don’t want to increase the hostility” between them. Bhargad said that if Prithviraj Chauhan was not portrayed accurately, they would actually protest. “Just like Karni Sena, we are in 22 states, from Jammu and Kashmir to Kanyakumari.”
Rajput order comes incidentally from Karni Sena, who never shy away from any controversy related to society or films in Rajasthan.
Ajit Singh Mamduli, the organizer of the National Congress of Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena, told The Indian Express that the fact that ‘Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan’ was a Rajput king is well established, including in the history books. But a new controversy is being created. Some political forces are bent on creating friction between Rajputs and Gurjars, and the filmmakers are like controversy as it may lead to further squabbling.”
Ironically, many critics accuse Karni Sena, behind the politically influential Rajput Sabha, of being instrumental in exactly the same thing.
Carne Sena said they reached out to the directors when shooting was underway to urge them to “expand” the film’s title. “Wherever you see a reference to Samrat Prithviraj, be it his statues, his textbooks etc., it is ‘Samrat Prithivraj Chauhan’. But the filmmakers don’t use Samrat or Chauhan. So if they continue without either, then Karni Sena will oppose the film.”
Last year, the Gurjars and Rajputs claimed another historical figure, King Mihir Bhuj.
Rajasthan also saw an outbreak of Rajput politics over the killing of gang members, such as Anand Pal Singh, with community protests forcing the government to seek a CBI.
Karne Cena had made his debut for protesting the 2008 film Greater Quality. Ultimately, the film was not released in the state (then led by the BJP), although Rajasthan did not ban it. In 2014, the group disrupted director Ekta Kapoor’s session at the Jaipur Literature Festival due to her TV series Jodhaa Akbar.
But her biggest success came in 2017, when Karni Sena led the protests against Padmaavat from the front, due to its portrayal of the legendary Rajput princess, at one point even threatening to cut off the nose of Deepika Padukone, who was playing her. . Karni Sena activists slapped its manager Sanjay Leela Bhansali during the shooting.
The protests gave it national recognition, with Rajputs forming similar groups in other states, or establishing Karni Sena chapters.
In 2019, the team also protested against star Kangana Ranaut Manikarnika, but had limited success.
Gurjar Mahasabha seems to be trying to take a leaf out of Karni Sena’s book for both easy eyeballs and community support.
The struggle for attention comes as Rajasthan enters the final stage ahead of the 2023 General Assembly elections. While Rajasthan had a Rajput CM in Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who held the position three times, the Gurjars did not yet have a CM from their community in the state.
Sachin Pilot, who is Gurjar, almost became CM in 2018 but eventually had to settle for the position of Vice CM.