Film history

Meet the Alauddin Khilji who asked, ‘I have 1,600 wives. Why Padmavati?’

The Delhi Sultanate leader from Shyam Benegal’s ‘Bharat Ek Khoj’ is more concerned with Chittor’s jewels than its queen Padmini.

If you do not believe that Ranveer Singh in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming Padmavati and Om Puri in Shyam Benegal’s 1980s television series Bharat Ek Khoj are both playing Delhi Sultanate ruler Alauddin Khilji, you are forgiven.

Singh’s Khilji appears to be a frontier savage who snarls maniacally when he is not wrestling bare-bodied or devouring meat like it is his last meal. Puri plays Khilji like a practical statesman who spends his days consulting his ministers to find ways to tax the rich, fix the prices of grains, and allocate more resources to his armies.

Play
Padmavati (2017).

While the Khilji of Padmavati likes to be semi-clothed in furs and would look more at home in Essos from Game of Thrones than 14th century Delhi, Puri’s Khilji is always dressed in royal garb and appears to have leapt out of the history books. These two characters share but a name, and are as similar as the sun and the moon.

The different approaches draw from the same source material: Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s sixteenth-century epic poem Padmavat. Right in the beginning of the second and final Bharat Ek Khoj episode in which Khilji appears, the narrator (also Om Puri) reminds audiences that the saga of Rajput valour described in Padmavat is illustrative of the traditions of the time and not of historical accuracy.

Ranveer Singh in Padmavati and Om Puri in Bharat Ek Khoj.
Ranveer Singh in Padmavati and Om Puri in Bharat Ek Khoj.

Khilji appears in episodes 25 and 26 of Bharat Ek Khoj, which was telecast on Doordarshan in 1988 and 1989. The episodes form the concluding chapters of the three-part Delhi Sultanate segment, which begins with the emergence of the Turks in India and ends with an account of the Tughlaq dynasty.

Episode 25 establishes Khilji as a ruthless politician. Khilji is perturbed by the rise of conspiracies and revolts in his kingdom. He orders his men to execute all conspirators and their families. His ministers come up with possible reasons behind the discontent, such as the abundance of liquor that leads to nobles plotting under the influence, their excessive wealth and their freedom to hold meetings, which leads to the spread of incendiary ideas.

Khilji bans liquor, curbs the right to hold gatherings and heaps taxes upon the rich. With the money collected through taxes, he strengthens his army as the Mongols are almost always at Delhi’s doorstep. He controls market prices and orders for dissenting traders to be tortured.

Khilji’s intentions are pragmatic – to centralise power and maintain order – but his methods are authoritarian and often barbaric, which leads to a priest to remind him that he is acting against Sharia law. In response, Khilji tells the priest that he is Muslim only because his ancestors identified as Muslim. His actions and decisions are taken for the welfare of the Sultanate and he is least bothered about the Sharia.

Play
Bharat Ek Khoj episode 25.

Episode 26 revolves completely around Padmavat, an epic poem written two centuries after Khilji died in 1316. According to the yarn as depicted in Bharat Ek Khoj, Raghav Chetan (Rakesh Shrivastava), the sorcerer at the court of Chittor’s king Ratan Sen (Rajendra Gupta), is banished for trickery. Chittor’s queen Padmini (Seema Kelkar) gifts him a bangle on his way out, but the bitter sorcerer is nevertheless thirsty for revenge. He reaches Khilji with the intention of getting him to attack Chittor. (Several historians concur that Padmini was a figment of the imagination.)

Khilji is initially amused on seeing the fakir. He is also sceptical. When Raghav Chetan reveals his real intention, Khilji even rebukes him for being treacherous. Khilji may be the villain in the tale but he has a moral compass.

But the sorcerer successfully entices Khilji with tales of Ratan Sen’s jewels and his beautiful wife. The rest of the episode explores Khilji attacking Chittor, trapping Ratan Sen by deceit and trying to get hold of Padmini. The part in Padmavat about Padmini and the other women of Chittor immolating themselves to protect their dignity is not touched by the episode.

Khilji, as shown in Bharat Ek Khoj, appears to be a genteel type despite the occasional outburst. He respects his ministers, appreciates his nautch girls, and is a crafty king. When Raghav Chetan tries to charm Khilji with the idea of kidnapping Padmini, the sultan cites a practical statistic: “I have 1,600 wives. Why Padmavati?”

Khilji’s lust is reserved for Ratan Sen’s jewels. This Khilji is a flawed human being, not a raging beast.

Play
Bharat Ek Khoj episode 26.
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.

A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.

This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance. Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.

The evolving patient

Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.

The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.

Play

As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.

Play

So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.

Play

As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”

Play

By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.