Book Review: Padmavati by Sutapa Basu

Padmavati by Sutapa Basu is a historical non-fiction book which tries to sketch the lost story of the Rajput Queen of Chittor. Padmavati also known as Padmini has been remained a hot subject of poets and writers since ages, and lately by Bollywood film directors.

Despite being a non-fiction book, this book has the charisma to keep the readers engrossed as this is such a compelling book which traces the ghosts of history. Readers may lose the track of time and look forward to finish it in just one go.

Sutapa has beautifully woven the characters and described the settings with such flawless detail and clarity that the emotions from that era to now to the readers are conveyed beautifully, and for this reason readers may feel transported to that world.

The assumed protagonist of the book is a journalist Mrinalini Rao, she is on a mission to discover whether the legendary Padmavati actually existed or was just a legendry folktale. In her quest, she meets Uma a local village girl at the Chittorgarh Fort. Uma catches Mrinalini’s attention as she claims passionately that she knows the true story of the Queen, as she had read Padma-wali, the Queen’s real story written by the Queen herself! Uma tells that Mrinalini turns her orientation to her upon knowing that Uma has collected Padma-wali from the ruins of the palace.

Uma leads Mrinalini through the fort narrating the tale of Padmavati as she had intended it to be told. As the tale unfolds, it becomes clear that the queen had her childhood and adolescent stage spent in Singhaldweep (Sri Lanka) and after marriage she is brought to Mewar region of desert. This journey gives the readers another opportunity to get transported from the world of Singhaldweep (Sri Lanka) to the dry beauty of the Mewar region.

The intermingled complications and politics of the royal household, the imagery, the dilemmas of the Queen and her husband Rawal Ratan Singh, the focus on the virtues of loyalty, consecration and friendship are effortlessly expressed in the book, event by event.

What does the movie offer is unknown but clearly, Sutapa Basu’s Padmavati is a captivating tale about the legendary, charismatic, highly skilled and beautiful Queen of Chittor. The secrecy holds the attention and the narrative flows easy which holds the mettle of writing.