Padmavat by Sanjal Leela Bhansali has been the centre of a cinematic storm. The KarniSena threatened the director on the set, appealed to authorities to ban the film, used violence and threatened to denose Deepika Padukone.
But after much drama, rationality prevailed in some measure, and the period drama was released with many cuts and minus the ‘I’ in its title.
After watching the film, many people were left with different emotions. Some thought it was hyped, some thought it was mundane. Swara Bhaskar was left feeling like a vagina.
She wrote an open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali decrying glorification of ‘Sati’ and ‘Jauhar’ which deny women the right to live. In the climax, Padmavati throws herself in the fire when her husband Raja Ratan is killed by Ala-ud-din Khalji on the battlefield. This was the traditional practise of the time, which women undertook to save themselves from rape and loot by the victors.
Image Credit: Movie – Padmavat
Swara Bhaskar feels that rape is not the end all of a woman’s life, just as vagina is not the only part of the body. Excerpts from the letter say Women are not only walking talking vaginas… “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.”
Yes, a woman can live with dignity after being raped. One cannot define a woman only by the integrity of her vagina. Even the recent assault on three youngsters near Pune who protested against V-tests on bride before marriage need to be seen in this light.
But to claim that an assault on the vagina is an assault only on a woman’s body is reductionist and insensitive. During the earlier times, if Padmavati chose death over rape, it is her choice and that too is feminism. If she chose to inflame herself for her love, that too is her choice.
The film does not glorify Jauhar. It only depicts Rajput pride in the context of the times in which the film sees its plot. In fact, the film draws a parallel between Padmavati and the Supreme Goddess who sacrificed herself to end evil. It reflects the divinity in each feminine form.
A rape is not only a violation of the body, but an assault on the mind and dignity of a woman. And it is on this count that Swara Bhaskar may have misinterpreted the feminism in the film Padmavat.
Read Also: Padmaavat Movie Review: Great Visual Appeal, Great Performances
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