Hey! I admit. History was never my forte in school, and I absolutely empathize with the attitude Bollywood has towards “period movies”. I know how plain jane it can be! I get tired of facts and figures, and the lectures are like lullabies to my ears. Now this is my take on history as it went down for the Indian Subcontinent, ranging from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, and the Hindu Kush mountains to the Andaman sea.
There was the pre-Anno Domini times, when emperors used to stomp around in their territories in garish costumes, living melodramatic, fascist, extravagant lifestyles (Asoka). Or there were peace-loving skin head monks propagating Buddism/Jainism, meditating skinny, hairy Sadhus preaching Hinduism, or white bearded Peers propagating Islam, who came from distant Arab on the back of fishes. (Hmm… we do have a piety hang-up, don’t we?). But, these are mostly based on unverifiable, disputable records, and my wild, exotic imagination helps to fill in the blanks.
Then came the post-1940s, when the subcontinent started breaking apart into smaller countries, tasting independence from the British, through revolutions, riots… and all the while taking shape in my head through colorful, graphical depictions of blood and gore. Remember those wonderful story-telling moments sitting on your grandparents’ laps, right before nappy time? This history is home stretch, on familiar turfs… recorded, verifiable and unquestioned (most might agree).
What happened in-between? Good question. That was a “grey area” when people used to wear depressing monochromatic colors, used banyan leaves for utensils and led way-too-predictable lives. The Moghuls (1450-1650) or the Marathas (1650-1750) are exceptions though, for their influences are far too powerful to ignore and thus get the pre-A.D. treatment in my head. Well, at least I am curious about my past!! I want to learn more. I have told my mother I will become a fashion designer when I grow up, and specialize in the evolution of historical costumes through different dynasties. That will be my homage to history! I am a creative and emotional person you see.