Reflections: "Devi" Ahilya bai

History can never disappoint one, even the most sullen of the minds can be fired up by conjuring up the past. Only if our history books were written in a more interesting way and only if our teachers taught history as History rather than a rote subject. Ahilyabai Holkar was a queen of the Maratha ruled Malwa kingdom. At the start of the movie, the following caveat appears: "All insult, damage or boredom is unintended. Animals were not harmed and money will not be refunded". This only reflects the state of history in our country where the most common word associated with historical studies is 'boredom'. 

The movie depicts the life of Ahilya bai from the day when she was spotted while rearing goats by Malhar Rao Holkar. He is impressed by her innocent looks and decides that she will be her daughter-in-law. She grows up amongst Malhar Rao's wives. Her husband Khanderao is a good for nothing prince in the waiting. After Khanderao's death Malhar Rao doesn't allow her to indulge in the practice of Sati and over time delegates most of the responsibilities of running the kingdom to her. The story depicts the qualities of Ahilya bai and her confronting the wrongs of the society and upholding the right. She built numerous temples and forts around the country.

Ahilya bai is played by Mallika Prasad, Malhar Rao by Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Khaanda Rani (a Rajasthani wife of Malhar Rao) by Mrs. Shabana Azmi (who talks in a Rajasthani dialect all throughout) and Khanderao by Ganesh Yadav.

The film is a little slow here and there, but nothing of the sort that would make one lose track. A treatise for history lovers.


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