Padmaavat: Swara Bhaskar writes open letter to Bhansali; calls film glorification of 'misogynistic criminal practice'
'Yes, women have vaginas, but they have more to them as well,' writes Swara Bhaskar.
Very few movies have caused as much controversy and confusion as Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat. After its 25 January release, Padmaavat has created a new stream of discussion on the internet: does the movie glorify Jauhar?
The debate has been raging on both ends on the spectrum. While Padmaavat has been praised for its grand visuals, stellar costume and set design, and the impressive scale at which it has been made, it has also received criticism for it's portrayal of Alauddin Khilji as a ruthless, murderous savage. Many have pointed out that Padmaavat is an excessive celebration of Rajput legacy and pride at the cost of villainising Khilji and Muslim rulers as a whole.
Now, actress Swara Bhaskar — known for movies like Nil Battey Sannata, Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, and Raanjhanaa — has jumped into the debate with an open letter to Padmaavat director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The open letter, published on the website TheWire.in, calls out Bhansali for glorifying Sati or Jauhar in the movie on more than one occasions.
"There were more than three instances of the ‘good’ characters of your story speaking of Sati/Jauhar as the honourable choice," Bhaskar writes in the open letter.
She reiterates throughout the letter that she has always been a fan of Bhansali. She points out that she played a minor role in Bhansali's Guzaarish, and has always been an ardent admirer of all his movies. But, the actor is not happy with Padmaavat's climax scene.
The final scene of the movie, according to Bhaskar, shows Jauhar in a positive light. It sends out a message that it is better for a woman to commit suicide rather than to have her purity tainted. She points out that throughout history a woman's honor, pride and sacredness has been attached to her "genitals" and the "purity" of it. "...at the end of your magnum opus. I felt like a vagina. I felt reduced to a vagina–only," she writes.
She also says that she understands Jauhar and Sati are part of Indian history, but that certainly doesn't mean that one should make a film about it with no perspective, or without a comment on such a "misogynistic" practice.
"Your act of thoughtlessly glorifying this misogynistic criminal practice is something you ought to answer for, Sir. As your ticket- buying audience, I have the right to ask you how and why you did this," she added.
She signed off the letter as "Swara Bhasker, Desirous of Life".
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