Swara Bhaskar has written an open letter in The Wire, criticizing Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s depiction of the Jauhar scene in the movie Padmaavat, stating that she felt like a “Vagina” during the movie because of its glorification of Jauhar practice. Padmaavat has become a superhit across India (at least in the states it was allowed to release) and internationally as well. People are praising the performances of the leads, specifically Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, and the visual artistry of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. However, the most talked about thing from the movie is the Jauhar scene in the climax, during which Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) commits self immolation along with all the other women of the fort rather than being captured by the evil ruler Allauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh).
The general audiences have embraced it as the cinematic highpoint of the movie, calling it breathtaking and praising Deepika Padukone’s performance, but the reviews have been a little more harsher about the scenes’s glorification of mass immolation.
Swara Bhaskar herself praised the director for his skills and the performances of the actors, but asked why he chose to glorify a regressive practice, which reduced the women to mere talking vaginas.
She wrote, “I felt very uncomfortable watching your climax, watching that pregnant woman and little girl walk into the fire. I felt my existence was illegitimate because God forbid anything untoward happened to me, I would do everything in my power to sneak out of that fiery pit– even if that meant being enslaved to a monster like Khilji forever. I felt in that moment that it was wrong of me to choose life over death. It was wrong to have the desire to live. This Sir, is the power of cinema.”
She also put for these points: “Women have the right to live, despite being raped sir.Women have the right to live, despite the death of their husbands, male ‘protectors’, ‘owners’, ‘controllers of their sexuality’.. whatever you understand the men to be. Women have the right to live — independent of whether men are living or not.Women have the right to live. Period.”
Although she did understand that movie is based on historical facts of Jauhar, but she also wrote that the practice needn’t be shown with such visual style, and the 21st century context was needed for the scene to justify itself. Sawara’s open letter has been praised by many, however, it has been criticzed from people as well, sepcifically her decision to defend her movie Ranjahana, that seemingly glorified stalking.
I loved the performances by all the actors in #Padmaavat – The film is seductive in its grandeur, scale, beauty, power of its actors’s performances, music, design, vision… and therein lies the problem! Some thoughts.. sorry abt the length 🙈🙈🙈https://t.co/0hYnvlAvAD
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) January 27, 2018