Is Padmaavat a Regressive Film or Not? Send Us Your Take

Is Padmaavat a Regressive Film or Not? Send Us Your Take

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Does Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ glorify jauhar – the tradition of Rajput women jumping into a burning pyre instead of living at the mercy of an invading king? Or is the disclaimer at the beginning of the film enough for it to denounce sati or any of its forms?

One view is that the anthem-like music, the “heroic” dialogues and the victorious voiceover during the film’s climax imbibe a sense in the viewer to look upon jauhar as a valiant move by women who chose death over the “loss of honour”.

Ever since Swara Bhasker wrote an open letter to Bhansali, published on The Wire, criticising the movie in no unclear terms, a debate ensued – online and offline – on whether Bhansali glorified jauhar or is it within an artists rights to tell a story the way he or she wants to.

In the climax, breathtakingly shot of course – hundreds of women bedecked in red like Goddess Durga as bride rushed into the jauhar fire while a raving Muslim psychopathic villain loomed over them and a pulsating musical track – that had the power of an anthem; seduced the audience into being awestruck and admiring of this act. Sir, if this is not glorification and support of sati and jauhar, I really do not know what is.
Swara Bhasker in an article on The Wire, titled, ‘At The End of Your Magnum Opus… I Felt Reduced to a Vagina – Only’

Renowned film critic Baradwaj Rangan took a different approach.

Siddharth and Garima, credited as lyricist and writers of Bhansali’s last film, Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, had a harsher response to Bhasker. “It was Padmavati’s choice and free will to not give herself up to Khilji. The question about life after rape does not arise. She, out of her free will, chose to embrace the fire rather than the tyrannical Alauddin. How is that any less empowering? It was a matter of choice and not forced upon them by their husbands!” the duo wrote in a blogpost.

So, Padmavati was not a ‘rape victim’ who was so shamed that she didn’t have a right to live, as you make it out to be in your letter. Amazing what you all make it into. Was your open letter about Padmaavat or the regressive ‘Bhoomi’?
Siddharth and Garima, writers of Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela

“So people who feel like a ‘vagina’ after watching Padmaavati, should continue to feel like a ‘vagina’ for they would never understand the power it has. The power to create and run the world. Such people are the biggest road-blocks for ‘feminism’,” they wrote.

This Debate Matters, What’s Your Take?

In the months leading up to the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’, the film made news for all the wrong reasons. From a group of goons who called themselves the Shri Rajput Karni Sena threatening to block the film’s release, to a seemingly confused CBFC demanding cuts, name changes and what not, Bhansali and his film ran, and completed, a veritable obstacle course before it hit theatres near you.

Also Read: Since ‘Padmaavat’ Has Released... Karni Sena, Ab Aap Kya Karenge?

At the time, many of us stood for the director’s freedom of speech and his right to express himself.

Yet now that we have seen the film, this is a debate that we must have. Does the role of a filmmaker extend to making responsible cinema, or cinema that does not promote social evils in any way? Should it?

Also Read: Can’t Be Bullied Into Abandoning One’s Dream: Sanjay Bhansali  

What’s your take? Mail us at editor@thequint.com and let us know!

Watch the full discussion here.

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