In what can be seen as a gamechanger for Bollywood, the life of Kota Rani, the last Hindu ruler of Kashmir region, shall be brought forward on the silver screen. Madhu Mantena has agreed to co produce this project along with Reliance Entertainment. Popular film critic cum trade analyst Taran Adarsh confirmed the same by posting the announcement of Twitter handle.
If sources are to be believed, the movie shall be based on the life of Kota Rani, as elucidated in Rakesh Kaul’s book ‘The Last Queen of Kashmir’. For those unaware, Kota Rani was the daughter of Raja Ramchandra Lohara, who hailed from the Lohara dynasty. She is hailed as the epitome of the concept ‘beauty with brains’. She is well known as an icon of resistance in Kashmir, and how she protected the valley from being attacked by invaders. Kota Rani is also famous for the construction of Kute Kol, the canal that saved Kashmir from frequent flooding.
Kota Rani’s father had appointed Rinchan, a local from Ladakh as one of his administrators. However, Rinchan was too ambitious and he usurped the throne.
To earn local support, Rinchan appointed Rawanchandra, the son of Ramachandra, as administrator of Lar and Ladakh, and married his sister, Kota Rani. He also employed Shah Mir as his trusted courtier, who had entered Kashmir earlier and had been given an appointment in the government. Rinchan converted to Islam and adopted the name of Sultan Sadruddin. He died as a result of an assassination after ruling for three years.
Kota Rani was first appointed as a regent for Rinchan‘s young son. Later on she was persuaded to remarry with Udayanadeva by the elders. Udayanadeva died in 1338. Kota Rani had two sons. Rinchan’s son was under the charge of Shah Mir and Udayanadeva’s son was taught by Bhatta Bhikshana. Kota Rani became the ruler in her own right and appointed Bhatta Bhikshana as her prime minister. Unable to digest this, Shah Mir pretended to be sick, and when Bhatta Bhikshana visited him, Shah Mir jumped out of his bed and killed him. According to the historian Jonaraja, she committed suicide and offered her intestines to him as a wedding gift. It is not known what happened to her sons. For these very reasons, some people also address her as ‘The Cleopatra of Kashmir.’
But why is Bollywood so interested in the tale of a medieval queen, forgotten by many people for centuries? It cannot be just coincidence that such a movie is being announced only weeks after the absurd provisions of Article 370 were abrogated by the Central Government. As such, we wonder if Bollywood, otherwise lambasted for their myopic approach to Indian subjects, and the dominance of the left liberal, Hinduphobic cabal is now showing an inclination towards a more pan Indian narrative.
To quote Madhu Mantena’s observation, “It’s a matter of great surprise that as Indians we don’t know enough or at all about a personality like Kota Rani. It would be no exaggeration to compare her to Cleopatra, and a lot of things that we are witnessing today are directly related to her story. Her life was extremely dramatic, and she is perhaps one of the most able woman rulers India has produced till now. It would be a shame not to know about her.”
Shibashish Sarkar, one of the co producers of the movie via Reliance Entertainment, it is a humble tribute to the legacy of Kota Rani, who gave up her life in order to protect the Kashmir Valley from the Islamic barbarians. To quote him, “Our main aim is to make a remarkable film on Kota Rani, which will reach as many people as possible. Her character has many shades but without a doubt, she is one of the tallest female characters to have come out of our country. Paradoxically very few of us know how she kept Kashmir valley away from the invaders.”
To be honest, with the success of movies like ‘Uri – The Surgical Strike’, ’Kesari’, ‘The Tashkent Files’ and now ‘Batla House’, some of the filmmakers and the producers are now finding the courage to explore the lives of many unsung heroes of India, which was deliberately ignored by the elite community of Bollywood.
With projects on Udham Singh, Indian Navy’s exploits in 1971 and Tanaji Malusare already in the pipeline, Bollywood is taking the nationalist approach a notch ahead with the decision to back a movie on Kota Rani, the last Hindu ruler of Kashmir region. Interestingly, Madhu Mantena is also backing a project based on the Valmiki Ramayana, which shall be directed by the ‘Dangal’ fame Nitesh Tiwari. As such, it would be interesting to see as to who brings the legacy of Kota Rani alive on screen.