We're clearly not done with controversies around Padmaavat. The last one to be added to the long list was Swara Bhaskar's open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali where she highlighted how the movie glorified Jauhar and Sati and she felt reduced to a 'vagina' because she felt that the movie promoted the idea that a woman's worth was limited to her honour and if, in case, she was raped, molested or disrespected, she did not have the right to live anymore.
While the internet is divided over what the movie is actually trying to portray, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been tight-lipped about his opinion. However, in a recent interview with a publication, Deepika Padukone, our very own Rani Padmavati, broke her silence and finally responded to what she feels the movie is trying to show. Here's what she said when asked about the criticism of the scene -
"Let me put things in perspective. We are not endorsing Jauhar. You must see the scene/practice in context to the period in which it was shown. And when you do that, you will realise, it’s so powerful. You do not feel like she is doing anything wrong. You want her to embrace the flames because she is going to be united with the man she loves."
Talking about it further, she also mentioned how difficult the scene really was to shoot!
While I'm proud of Deepika Padukone for essaying a role that required so much dedication and intensity, and I have my qualms about Swara Bhaskar's letter about the scene, I disagree with a part of Deepika's statement as well. I didn't think, at any moment, that Rani Padmavati stepped into the flames to be united with the man she loves. As a regular cinemagoer, who lives off Bollywood movies and is an SLB fan, the scene, for me meant something entirely different. It felt like Rani Padmavati, and all the other women with her, stepped into the fire to protect Rajputana honour and themselves. In the monologue before the climax, she says that their honour is something they need to protect together and even if their men die in the battlefield, they can save it by ending their lives rather than becoming slaves to a maniacal Muslim ruler. Padmavati's Jauhar was the ultimate defeat of the carnal desires of Alauddin Khilji even though he won the battle.
The 15-minute climax scene was nothing less than a visual delight to watch and I was in awe of the majestic portrayal of what, at the root of it, was an evil practice. But, at the end of it, I can't but think that nobody should come out of the movie feeling like ending their life is an option if their 'honour' is under threat.
Another response to Swara's open letter was from the writers of Ram-Leela, Siddharth-Garima. After reading the blogpost, I have to say that this duo did give a fresh perspective to the whole debate.
— Siddharth-Garima (@KuttiKalam) January 28, 2018
Let's see what Swara has to say now, shall we?