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No Fear No Favour

Padmaavat Controversy: Swara Bhaskar come down heavily in her open letter to Bhansali’s magnum opus

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been left in a precarious situation ever since he decided to make Padmaavat. The film has been riled in unending controversies and even after being granted a release by the CBFC, it has been banned in 4 states, with the fringe group, Karni Sena, stooping to a new low every day by either saying or doing something cringeworthy. And now, as if this wasn’t enough, actress Swara Bhaskar, has written an open letter published in the Wire on Saturday, calling out the director for glorifying Sati and Jauhar in his film.

The actress who will next be seen in Veere Di Wedding, began her open letter by praising Bhansali for nearly eight paragraphs, supporting him in his battle against the fringe elements who did everything in their power to stall the film’s release. However, she concluded the letter by suggesting that the film reduced her and the entire female race to ‘talking vaginas’. Swara who worked with the director in his film Guzaarish expressed how much he adores him but said that she needed to point out some of the decisions he made in the film. She was particularly left offended by the controversial end of the film which as Deepika Padukone’s Rani Padmini committing herself to fire in order to safeguard her honour.

She wrote, ” 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. Women are not only walking talking vaginas. Yes, women have vaginas, but they have more to them as well. So their whole life need not be focused on the vagina, and controlling it, protecting it, maintaining it’s purity. (Maybe in the 13th century that was the case, but in the 21st century we do not need to subscribe to these limiting ideas. We certainly do not need to glorify them.) It would be nice if the vaginas are respected; but in the unfortunate case that they are not, a woman can continue to live. She need not be punished with death, because another person disrespected her vagina without her consent. There is life outside the vagina, and so there can be life after rape. (I know I repeat, but this point can never be stressed enough.)”

She added that the disclaimer at the beginning of the film condemning the acts if sati and jauhar meant nothing as it was close to three hours of Rajput worship. She wrote that while she understands that sati and jauhar are a part of our society, she wondered if that meant women-‘-widowed, raped, young, old, pregnant, pre-pubescent’ – had the right to live, because the film failed to treat them like human beings. She made a comparison in the way Bhansali treated the controversial scene in the film, saying that it glorifies lynchings and honour killings. To read the complete letter, click here

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