There is nothing more compelling than a film which strictly adheres to the idea ‘Based on a True Story’. However, filmmakers have often shown no qualms in exaggerating events and changing the real location, people and events. The reason? It makes the project a lot more entertaining and engaging than an ordinary documentary. Sadly, the filmmakers show no inhibitions in incorporating factual inaccuracies even in historical epics. So superfluous characters are added, key aspects are deleted and often action sequences are overstressed.
As soon as the teaser of Ashutosh Gowariker’s upcoming period drama, featuring Hrithik Roshan and Pooja Hegde in key roles, was released, critics slammed the film for its inaccuracies about the Indus Valley Civilisation.
Calling Gowariker utterly ‘confused’ about the Vedic Age and the Indus Valley Civilisation, detractors were soon to point flaws in the film’s trailer. From the usage of white Arabian horses in 2016 BC (that adds no historical significance), to Chaani (played by Pooja Hegde) wearing feathers in her headgear even when none of the multiple terracotta figurines of the Indus Valley Civilisation sported it to the fair and lovely complexion of the population – Gowariker is being lambasted for using his film to support the long-rejected stereotypes.
But Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro isn’t the only film that hasn’t given the accurate depiction of historical facts. Here’s a quick lowdown on films that courted controversies for distorting historical evidences.
Considering the money that was spent on creating its lavish sets, and roping in Bollywood A-listers Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, Gowarikar-directed magnum opus Jodhaa Akbar was expected to win acclaim and BO numbers. But the film drew disapproval for the depiction of historical flaws in the narrative.
Sri Rajput Karni Sena activists didn’t approve of the screening film in Rajasthan. Lokendra Singh Kalvi, Sri Rajput Karni Sena leader had stated that of the 34 wives that Mughal emperor Akbar had, there was nobody by the name Jodhabai. It was claimed by the organization that Jodha was Udai Singh of Marwar’s daughter and was married to Akbar's son, Salim. The film’s screening was also banned in Madhya Pradesh following demonstrations against it by the Rajput community at theatres.
Mangal Pandey: The Rising was another film to have been slammed for making quick bucks by glamorizing history. The critics alleged that the project was neither filmed in UP, nor did it include Begum Hazrat Mahal’s contributions. Beset with historical hitches, the film missed out on the key facts about the Revolt of 1857. Considering that the film depicted first Indian revolutionary in a negative way, a petition was filed in the High Court. The film which revolved around Mangal’s life also had sequences that showed him in a relationship with a prostitute, which as the petition stated wasn’t based on historical evidence.
The BJP had also demanded a ban on the film accusing the producer for involving character assassination of the fighter. The film also drew ire from Mangal Pandey’s native distict of Ballia.
Asoka: Even though the film begins with a voiceover stating that the film doesn’t claim to be a comprehensive historical account of Asoka’s life, and that it just attempted to follow the journey, it was still not convincing enough. Many slammed the film for long dance sequences, to the imaginary Pawan/Kaurwaki episode.