The movie ‘Padmavaat’ depicts Emperor Alauddin Khilji as lustful savage chasing women. As shown in the movie, it is true that Alauddin Khilji was a barbaric and ruthless ruler. The movie also right about his conquest of Chittoor and about women committing immolation. But history makes very little mention of Rani Padmini. It portrays Alauddin Khilji to be a power-hungry man who was only interested in expanding his kingdom and wealth.
The movie also fails to highlight his actual military prowess and administrative capabilities. Alauddin Khilji was an efficient ruler and a great military strategist. He was cruel and ruthless with people who were disloyal to him but at the same time passed a few reforms which benefited the people.
Alauddin Khilji was one of the mighty rulers of the Khilji dynasty (1296-1316 AD). The Khilji dynasty was started by Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji, who was the Uncle of Alauddin Khilji. Ali Ghursasp is was the birth name of Alauddin Khiji.
Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khilji appointed Ali Ghurshasp as the Governor of Kara (Kara was located near Allahabad city). Ali Ghurshasp as the Governor of Kara headed the invasion to the Devagiri Kingdom located in the Deccan. He captured Devagiri, murdered his Uncle and proclaimed himself as the Sultan of the Khilji dynasty.
His kingdom extended from Rajput territories in Western and North-West India to regions in the Deccan and South India. After he became Sultan, he faced many challenges in the form of the empty treasury, corrupt officials, rebellious Jagirdars and Zamindars, and foreign invasions.
He tackled these challenges by adopting many administrative and social reforms which helped him rule effectively. Under his administration, the influence of the Jagirdars and the Zamindars was reduced to a large extent. They were mainly responsible for an empty treasury because they siphoned a large amount of the taxes for their personal use.
Emperor Alauddin Khilji prevented this from happening and converted their lands into crown lands and imposed a due amount to be paid by them as revenue. This saved many peasants from being directly exploited by the Zamindars and helped in the restoration of the treasury.
He further improved the intelligence system in his kingdom by recruiting police, slaves, and servants to keep an eye on the law and order system.
He brought about many social reforms such as banning alcohol and breweries and shut down all brothels and gambling places. This was done to improve the working capacity of his officials.
Drinking had become a huge problem at that time and many officials were not performing their duties due to intoxication.Also, drinking too much was a reason to give away secrets to enemies which would make them vulnerable to attack.
His main concern was to withhold foreign invasions and he successfully prevented the Mughals and Mongols from invading his kingdom. He built new forts and repaired old ones to guard his kingdom against the Mongols.
His efforts should be applauded as the Mongols were treacherous warriors who carried out ghastly attacks on their enemies mercilessly.
He invested in the latest war methods and paid a handsome salary to all the men serving in his Army. Also, Alauddin Khilji ensured that salaries of the soldiers were directly paid by him without the presence of any middlemen.
Under his rule, the prices of the commodities were decreased leading to better purchasing capacity for the poor.
Further, he did not discriminate anyone on the basis of religion and everyone was subjected to the same punishment. He also punished people for committing adultery under the Shariat law.
Alauddin Khiji had a strange behavior and could not control his rage or temper. He was ruthless and harsh in his ways. He never spared anyone who disobeyed him and ruled with an iron fist. He terrorized the people in his kingdom because of which they never dared to defy him.
He was ignorant of people’s sensitivities and did not bother to distinguish between an innocent person and a wrongdoer. They were meted with the same treatment. The rights of the people did not exist nor was there a system of justice that was present. The King acted in whichever way he wanted. This made a cruel and cold- blooded ruler who could go to any extent to gain the allegiance of his subjects.
The movie 'Padmavat' is based on the ballad written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. It is beautifully written and describes the nobleness and greatness of the Rajput dynasty. But it cannot be relied upon as it does not give a correct description of events.
Firstly, it is nowhere mentioned in history that the reason for Alauddin Khiji's invasion of Chittoor was due to Rani Padmini. Secondly, Rani Padmini's existence in historical texts only came to light in the 1500s. Therefore, Alauddin Khilji and Padmini were separated by a time gap of 200 years. This makes Jayasi's work questionable. Thirdly, Rani Padmini committing immolation was not due to Alauddin Khiji but may have been due to another invader.
Although his love for Rani Padmini is unknown, he was an excellent statesman and ruler. He brought about many changes in the system which benefitted all. He was also a great patron of art, architecture, and music.
His death is known to be having been caused due to dropsy. Malik Naib who was the chief at that time murdered him when the illness took extreme form. After his death, the Tughlaq dynasty tookover his kingdom in 1320 AD.