Dissection: Swara Bhaskar’s Open Letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Padmaavat

 

 

First things first. In our Open post earlier this year, we put out Open Letters/Notes from celebrities among the trends that should be stopped by celebrities. It’s freaking annoying! This brings us to today’s Dissection post, which is the first time we are doing a dissection on an article or written content. Dissection are usually about video interviews, but this open letter by Swara Bhaskar deserved to be dissected.

 

Who is Swara Bhaskar?

She is a very talented young actress, who has gotten some attention over the past years. Her rise to getting solo films came in the last two years. We saw her in a beautiful little film called ‘Nil Batey Sannatta’.

 

If you still don’t know who Swara Bhaskar is?

If you have no idea who Swara is, you might just remember her as Sonam Kapoor‘s filmi best friends. As in, her lesser-known actress best friends. No, not Jacqueline Fernandez, there’s also another one. Sonam and Swara are like Kareena Kapoor and Amrita Arora were at once time. To be fair, that’s a silly comparison as Swara is way more talented or simply put, talented to be compared to Amrita. What we meant was, like Kareena used to help Amrita by putting her in her films, Sonam too did the same for Swara. Now, we don’t know whether Sonam actually recommended Swara for her films or it was simply a coincidence that they were cast together in ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’, ‘Raanjhanaa’ and the upcoming Sonam Kapoor home production, ‘Veere Di Wedding‘.

 

Here is Sonam promoting Swara’s film:

Here is Sonam promoting Swara’s talent:

Jeez, Sonam. Calm down before your other bestie, Jackie starts feeling the heat and also, come to realise how you never praised her talent the way you are doing for Swara.

Swara Bhaskar’s open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali

We have been reading about Swara Bhaskar’s open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali since she released it. We have been reading news of it, not the actual letter. The first thought that came to mind was that Swara felt the need to do this because she is close to Sonam Kapoor. Let us be very honest, this was exactly what we thought of. You all know how much Sonam hates Deepika Padukone and this rant from Swara pretty much feels like she was doing this because this is a Deepika film and not what she was saying it was for. That was initially how we felt about her open letter without reading about it first.

Also, perhaps Swara felt that she had to do something for Sonam since that poor girl has been praising her from rooftops.

Obviously, we are just kidding!

 

Back to the open letter.

Would she have ranted the same way if it was Sonam Kapoor, who was the lead actress of ‘Padmaavat’? Or better yet, would she have complained this much if she had a role in this film? NO, she wouldn’t have!

Now that we have read her letter, we are burning with rants about it. So, we will do like we do with the Dissection topics. We are going to share her letter down here below and give out our thoughts from right under it. Not to discredit the original website that posted this letter, here’s a LINK to it.

The problem with actors and actresses is that once they are given a platform to talk, they talk things that make sense. Then, once they realise that everyone is praising them, they misuse that platform to get into other things because their heads are so high up in the clouds that they lose all common sense over what should be made public and what should be kept private.

Let us say first and foremost that this whole open letter from Swara Bhaskar felt that she was going through a rough day and decided to vent out her frustrations. You know how it is? Sometimes things are not going your way and you are so fed up, but instead of keeping calm mentally, you verbally attack the wrong person and take out all your anger on that poor person. This is how her open letter feels, like she just needed a reason to vent out her frustrations and poor uncle Bhansali got halal’d in the process.

Let’s just say that everyone is entitled to their opinions, but when you are a celebrity, things are different.

So without further ado, let’s dive in. Presenting Swara Bhaskar’s Open Letter

‘At The End of Your Magnum Opus… I Felt Reduced to a Vagina – Only’

– Swara, this open letter would have made more sense if you ended up with a p#nis at the end of this magnum opus! You went in with a v@gina and came out with one, what else were you expecting? This is not the Kardashian reality show!

Dear Mr. Bhansali,

At the outset Sir, congratulations on finally being able to release your magnum opus ‘Padmaavat’ – minus the ‘i’, minus the gorgeous Deepika Padukone’s uncovered slender waist, minus 70 shots you apparently had to cut out.. but heyyyy!

– Why does this seem more like an insult than a congratulations?

You managed to have it released with everyone’s heads still on their shoulders and noses still intact. And in this ‘tolerant’ India of today, where people are being murdered over meat, and school children are targets for avenging some archaic notion of male pride, that your film even managed a release – that is I guess commendable, and so again, congratulations.

– Again, what is it with the sarcasm? It’s not Bhansali’s fault that Karni Sena went crazy about the release of this film.

Congratulations also on the stunning performances all around by your entire cast — primary and supporting. And, of course, the film was a stunning visual treat. But then all of this is to be expected from a brilliant auteur like yourself, a man who leaves his stamp on everything he touches.

By the way Sir, we know each other, after a fashion. I don’t know if you remember, but I played a tiny role in your film Guzaarish. A two-scene -long role, to be precise. I remember having a brief chat with you about my lines, and you asking me what I thought about the lines. I remember feeling proud for a whole month that Sanjay Leela Bhansali had asked me my opinion. I watched you agitatedly explaining to junior artists in one scene, and to the jimmy jib operator in the second scene; some minutiae of the particular shot you were taking. And I remember thinking to myself, “Wow! This man really cares about every little detail in his film.” I was impressed with you Sir.

– What the hell??? You know him and yet, choose to write an open letter to the world addressed to him? You could have just called him up and told him what you thought of his film. Or better yet, go to his house or office to complain about his film to his face. Or does he have a restraining order against you? This is the only explanation because it does not make sense for you to write a letter addressed to someone you know already and have it published on a website for the world to read. Did you at least send him a link to that letter or you can’t do that because of the restraining order?

An avid watcher of your films, I marveled at how you pushed boundaries with every film you made and how stars turned into fierce and deep performers under your able direction. You moulded my idea of what epic love must be like and I fantasised about the day I will be directed by you in a protagonist part. I was and remain a fan.

– You can forget about Bhansali chacha hiring you, like ever! Just ask Sonam if she wants to work with him and you will see. The things that he put his actors through just to extract that raw performance out of them. You had a chance, but you burnt that bridge yourself!

And I want you to know, I really fought for your film when it was still called Padmavati. I grant you, I fought on Twitter timelines –not on the battlefield, and I sparred with trolls not raving manic Muslims; but still I fought for you. I said to TV cameras the things I thought you were not being able to say because your Rs 185 crore were on the line.

– Sarcasm again?

And I genuinely believed what I said. I genuinely believed and still believe that you and every other person in this country has the right to say the story they want to say, the way they want to say it, showing how much ever stomach of the protagonist they want to show; without having their sets burnt, their selves assaulted, their limbs severed or their lives lost.

– If you genuinely believed that, Swara, you wouldn’t have written this open letter complaining how Bhansali mama wrongly depicted some scenes in the film.

Also, in general, people should be able to make and release films and children should be able to get to school safely. And I want you to know that I really wished that your film turn out to be a stupendous success, a blockbuster breaking box office records, whose collections itself would be a slap in the faces of the Karni Sena terrorists and their ilk. And so it was with great excitement and the zeal of a believer that I booked first day, first show tickets for Padmaavat, and took my whole family and our cook to watch the film.

– Again, your wishes are contradicting this open letter.

Perhaps it is because of this attachment and concern that I had for the film that I am SO stunned having watched it. And perhaps that is why I take the liberty and have the temerity to write to you. I will try and be concise and direct though there is much to say.

  • 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.

It’s actually pretty basic.

– When did Bhansali Sir said those things ever? When? He might have showed that in the film because the film was supposed to be showing us how women those days lived. How is that Bhansali’s fault? It’s like someone making a film on Jesus and you tell them that it wasn’t right to have him nailed up there like that at the end of the film! That’s how things were then, so obviously it’s what will be shown right?

Some more basic points:

  • 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.)
  • In general there is more to life than the vagina.

– Hmmmmm, Swara? Have you thought of telling the same things to all the men in Bollywood? Because we think that’s how they view women in Bollywood, as (you put it) walking talking vaginas. How about you write an open letter to all the men in Bollywood and tell them all this? Someone should and you have all the right words and angst to do it, Swara. Just be the start of the #MeToo campaign in Bollywood. Be our whoever exposed Harvey Weinstein in the New York Times!

You may be wondering why the hell I am going on and on thus about vaginas. Because Sir, that’s what I felt like at the end of your magnum opus. I felt like a vagina. I felt reduced to a vagina–only. I felt like all the ‘minor’ achievements that women and women’s movements have made over the years– like the right to vote, the right to own property, the right to education, equal pay for equal work, maternity leave, the Vishakha judgement, the right to adopt children…… all of it was pointless; because we were back to basics.

– What are you talking about? If you felt this way at the end of this film, how did you feel at the end of all the Salman Khan films? Or better yet, ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’? What the hell do all these points have to do with the achievements of women? When did Bhansali say that all the achievements of women should be thrown out of the window and only the achievements of women depicted in his film should be given importance? When? Was this film titled ‘Padmaavat – Come lose your vagina’?

We were back to the basic question — of right to life. Your film, it felt, had brought us back to that question from the Dark Ages – do women – widowed, raped, young, old, pregnant, pre-pubescent… do they have the right to live?

– What???! If that was the way these women lived, who are you to question it now? In fact, you should be grateful and thankful that women have come a long way. Why are you blaming a film director for how women behaved in the ancient days?

I understand that Jauhar and Sati are a part of our social history. These happened. I understand that they are sensational, shocking dramatic occurrences that lend themselves to splendid, stark and stunning visual representation; especially in the hands of a consummate maker like yourself — but then so were the lynchings of blacks by murderous white mobs in the 19th century in the US – sensational, shocking dramatic social occurrences.

– What the helll happened here? Who changed the channel to Hollywood? Why not use the South Indian film industry as an example? Heard they still treat actresses badly over there.

Does that mean one should make a film about it with no perspective on racism? Or, without a comment on racial hatred? Worse, should one make a film glorifying lynchings as a sign of some warped notion of hot-bloodedness, purity, bravery – I don’t know, I have no idea how possibly one could glorify such a heinous hate crime.

– That’s because, Swara, you are not a director but only an actress. You are paid to act out what writers and director imagine, you play out their creations onscreen.

Surely Sir, you agree that Sati, and Jauhar are not practices to be glorified. Surely, you agree that notwithstanding whatever archaic idea of honour, sacrifice, purity propels women and men to participate in and condone such practices; that basically Sati and Jauhar, like the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Honour Killings, are steeped in deeply patriarchal, misogynist and problematic ideas. A mentality that believes that the worth of women lies in their vaginas, that female lives are worthless if the women are no longer controlled by male owners or if their bodies have been ‘desecrated’ by the touch of ; or even the gaze of a male who doesn’t by social sanction ‘own’ or ‘control’ the female.

– When did Bhansali say that he wants women in India start doing Johar and Sati. Wait, that’s Jauhar because women cannot start doing Johar now. When did Bhansali make this claim? Because this sounds like you are accusing him of making this claim.

– To be fair, there are still women today, who make their living using their vaginas. Literally, their worth lies in their vaginas, so don’t get preachy with us and don’t disrespect these women.

Practices like Sati, Jauhar, FGM, Honour Killings should not be glorified because they don’t merely deny women equality, they deny women personhood. They deny women humanity. They deny women the right to life. And that is wrong. One would have assumed that in 2018, this is not a point that even needs to be made; but apparently, it does. Surely, you wouldn’t consider making a film glorifying FGM or Honour Killings!

– Actually, there have been several films about honour killings and they just depicted the truth. Thankfully, you didn’t see them or else you would have thought that the directors were trying to glorify honour killings! On that note, please also don’t watch ‘Dutt’ because you might just take it wrongly as to how a criminal and ex-abuser of drugs can be glorified like that by Rajkumar Hirani. But, wait a minute? Your bestie Sonam is in that film, so maybe you will be fine by then, right?

Sir, you will say to me that I am over-reacting and that I must see the film in its context. That it’s a story about people in the 13th Century. And in the 13th century that’s what life was– polygamy was accepted, Muslims were beasts who devoured meat and women alike, and honourable Hindu women happily jumped into their husbands funeral pyre, and if they couldn’t make it to the funeral, they built a pyre and rushed into it — in fact, they liked the idea of collective suicide so much that they gleefully discussed it over their daily beautification rituals. “Verisimilitude” you will say to me.

– Over-reacting is understating it! You are literally going crazy about it, like how the whole of Hollywood got crazy when Donald Trump became president.

No Sir; Rajasthan in the 13th century with its cruel practices is merely the historical setting of the ballad you have adapted into the film Padmaavat. The context of your film is India in the 21st century; where five years ago, a girl was gang-raped brutally in the country’s capital inside a moving bus. She didn’t commit suicide because her honour had been desecrated, Sir. She fought her six rapists. She fought them so hard that one of those monsters shoved an iron rod up her vagina. She was found on the road with her intestines spilling out. Apologies for the graphic details, Sir, but this is the real ‘context’ of your film.

– Thank you for reminding us of this horrific and satanic crime against an innocent girl. Again, how is Bhansali mamou responsible for this? Crimes against women have been happening on a daily basis now, why not write an open letter about it to the government to do something?

A week before your film released, a 15-year-old Dalit girl was brutally gang-raped in Jind in Haryana; a crime bearing sinister similarities to the rape of Nirbhaya.

– Again, same advice as the above.

You do know that acts like Sati and raping women are two sides of the same mindset. A rapist attempts to violate and attack a woman in her genital area, penetrate it forcibly, mutilate it in an effort to control the woman, dominate her or annihilate her. A Sati- Jauhar apologist or supporter attempts to annihilate the woman altogether if the genitals have been violated or if her genitals are no longer in the control of a ‘rightful’ male owner. In both cases the attempt and idea is to reduce women to a sum total of their genitals.

The context of art, any art is the time and place when it was created and consumed. And that’s why this gang-rape infested India, this rape condoning mindset, this victim blaming society is the actual context of your film, Sir. Surely in this context, you could have offered some sort of a critique of Sati and Jauhar in your film?

You will say that you put out a disclaimer at the beginning of the film claiming that the film did not support Sati or Jauhar. Sure Sir, but you followed that up with a two-hour-45-minute-long paean on Rajput honour, and the bravery of honourable Rajput women who chose happily to sacrifice their lives in raging flames, than to be touched by enemy men who were not their husbands but were incidentally Muslim.

– It’s a freaking movie, Swara. Get over it!

There were more than three instances of the ‘good’ characters of your story speaking of Sati/Jauhar as the honourable choice, your female protagonist – epitome of both beauty, brains and virtue sought permission from her husband to commit Jauhar, because she could not even die without his permission; soon after she delivered a long speech about the war between Satya and Asatya, Dharm and Adharm and presented collective Sati to be the path of Truth and Dharm.

– If that was how things were done then, what problem do you have with it? It was the culture then, but it is not now.

Then 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.

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.

– What???! Girls today are living their lives enslaved by ISIS. They are being raped by different men every day. This is a reality that is still happening today and no one can save them because they are stuck and have become slaves to these men. To think that you are complaining about how a movie scene that is supposed to depict an ancient-time situation? Why not just write an open letter to the ISIS animals and blast them for enslaving young girls and keeping them as their sex slave?

Your cinema particularly is inspiring, evocative and powerful. It can move audiences to emotional highs and lows. It can influence thinking and that, Sir, is why you must be responsible as to what it is you are doing and saying in your film.

It was with great difficulty that a group of reform-minded Indians, and the provincial British Colonial governments and Princely States in India abolished and criminalised Sati in a series of judgments between 1829 and 1861. In independent India, The Indian Sati Prevention Act (1988) further criminalised any type of aiding, abetting, and glorifying of Sati. Your act of thoughtlessly glorifying this misogynistic criminal practice is something you ought to answer for, Sir. As your ticket- buying audience, I have the right to ask you how and why you did this.

– Yes, you do have a right to ask him, which is why you should have done so privately instead of publishing it openly.

You must be aware that modern Indian history has recorded some more recent Jauhar– like acts. During India and Pakistan’s bloody Partition some 75,000 women were raped, kidnapped, abducted, forcibly impregnated by men of the ‘other’ religion. There were numerous instances of voluntary and assisted suicides by women, in some cases husbands and fathers themselves beheaded their wives and daughters before men of the ‘other’ religion could touch them.

– Are you showing off that you read the news on a regular basis or something?

Bir Bahadur Singh, survivor of the riots in Thoa Khalsa in Punjab, described a scene of women jumping into the village well to commit suicide. In about half an hour, he recalled, the well was full. The women on top survived. His mother was a survivor. Singh, recalls author Urvashi Butalia in her 1998 book The Other Side Of Silence, was ashamed of his mother for living for the remainder of her life. This is among the darkest periods of Indian history and ought to be remembered with shame, horror, sadness, reflection, empathy, nuance; not with thoughtless sensational glorification. These sad tales of the Partition, too, are a less obvious context of your film Padmaavat.

– Again, how is this Bhansali’s fault? Why don’t you become an activist and be part of the change? Help make women’s lives easier. Think about it!

Mr. Bhansali, I will end in peace; wishing that you make many more films the way you want to, and are allowed to shoot and release them in peace; that you, your actors, your producers, your studio and your audiences remain safe from threats and vandalism. I promise to fight trolls and television commentators for your freedom to express; but I also promise to ask you questions about the art you make for public consumption. Meanwhile, let’s hope that no zealot member of any Karni Sena or some Marni Sena gets the idea to demand decriminalisation of the practice of Sati!

– What???!!

Sincerely,

Swara Bhasker
Desirous of Life

 

Swara, honestly it would have been nice if you had written an open letter after the release of your film, ‘Nil Batey Sannatta’, to ask the government to support single mothers in making sure their children get a proper education. It would have also been great if you would have focused on the promotion of that film to point out how important it is for poor children to get a proper education so that they get to have a good future.

This rant of yours for ‘Padmaavat’ is baseless because you are using your name as a celebrity for something that does not even deserve this type of publicity. Next time you feel like having a baseless rant, just take it out by running around the block or perhaps, join your co-star, Kareena Kapoor, at the gym. Don’t misuse your celebrity by writing open letters no one asked for. And, also please ask Sonam Kapoor for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s number so that you can personally read your open letter out to him!

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73 Responses

  1. Sara says:

    Final point. That was Then. Don’t compare todays detoriated humans to the ancient Human. Ancient men/women were spiritually awakened. Their third eyes were open, the chakra worked in full force. They were more connected to their higher self than what we are today. Humans now are like tammed dogs with vaccination. So don’t judge just accept facts as they are. Peace out!

  2. kiran101 says:

    Also, Bhansali will do everything in grand scale. Jauhar scene is one of them…That is his default mode…make it grand.
    In devdas…when Paro was running towards dying Dev …you can see chandlairs shaking….her saree flutter, full length camera shots…Its distracts us from seeing pain in Paro’s face. I would say he did it better with Jauhar. Its foolish to think he is glorifying jauhar ….he glorifies everything. Swara is a fool…there are so many current issues, this is not one of them.But, heck who says no to 15 mins of fame.

  3. Nimi says:

    Saw the film, Ranveer was portrayed as some form
    of Indian Khal Drogo which really disappointed me, not to say that I didn’t like his acting. He was brilliant but the character was etched out completely incorrectly. Khilji dynasty derived a lot of their culture from the Persian dynasty including the language so I really really doubt they were this barbaric. Khilji had short hair, fair skin, and green eyes with dark hair. He was very tall and extremely cultured and sophisticated. As a history professor in the past, I wasn’t impressed in his portrayal. SLB must have thought that being brutal and barbaric will give impact but in my opinion the villains that I have been scared about the most are the likes of Hannibal Lecter, Patrick Bateman etc. who were extremely suave and charming, with impeccable manners and sophistication.
    Deepika looked beautiful but she needs to work on her dialogue delivery and stop with intense stares. She done the same thing in BM. It just doesn’t add intensity. She should watch madhuri in Devdas and how she brings that intensity to her eyes with a half smile on her face.
    Shahid was good but whatever, we all knew he was going to be pretty good in whatever he does but his King was very weak and sounded like a little boy. Khilji are him alive in the film.
    The best part about the film for me was Aditi Rao Hudari and Jim. Oh how I wish there was more of them. Aditi acted so well and looked stunning. Even better than Deepika.
    The climax was great, it gave me goosebumps.
    I don’t think pseudo feminist Sonam’s friend has watched the film. The film portrayed Jauhar as the last resort for women when they were presented with a choice of rape, pillaging, becoming a part of harem or sacrificing their lives.
    If you watch a kingdom of heaven, Eva green does the same thing to her son who is diagnosed with leprosy. She kills him while putting him to sleep to prevent him from growing up and having a bleak future like that of her brother the current King.
    Swara should read into history first before opening her oral orifice and spitting out utter bullshit. I never felt like a vagina. If I was presented a choice back in the day, I would have freaking committed one too rather than be raped and treated with utter disrespect back in the 13th CENTURY.

  4. Swati says:

    Agree with Swara. Disagree vehemently with Admin. A fort full of women choosing to burn themselves rather than surviving/ fghting a possible rape attempt is a bit tough to swallow. And it’s all linked to the whole ‘a woman would rather die than get raped’ mindset. There have been so many first person anecdotes of women who escaped the partition saying they and their sisters were being forced to jump into wells by righteous family members and many didn’t want to. Bhansali glorified jauhar. No one says don’t show the jauhar scene but showing it as the ultimate symbol of the Rajput queen’s purity reflects of Bhansali’s mindsett as the filmmaker. And it deserves to be called out. Just think about it. A fort full of women set themselves ablaze. That’s a tragedy of inhuman proportions. That’s not victory. Think of their burning skin and their screams. Call out that horrific moment instead of glorifying it and analyse why women felt they had to do it. Am glad so many critics are rejecting this jauhar/sati glorification. To all the women on this page, I would like to say: Rape is horrific, yes. But life is more precious. Never ever buy into the whole patriarchal moral construct that your honour is more important than your life. Thousands of women the world over have survived rape. Learn from them. Life is beautiful. Do not jump into some metaphorical or literal fire and die a gruesome death. You are more than your vaginas.

    • xyz says:

      Agree with this! Thanks for writing this. I’m surprised at the amount of negative reaction against Swara’s article since she is certainly not the first one to raise their points. Certainly, her article was rambling and in need of good editing, No one is saying don’t show jauhar, yes jauhar existed in the poem itself and in the history of course, but there is a problem with the way jauhar is cinematically glorified in this movie.
      What is the price of honour, indeed?

    • Rad says:

      @Swati – First of all no thinking woman would take life lessons from a bollywood movie lol. And if today a woman is faced with a situation like this, who’s to say what she would do. If I am in an unfortunate situation where choice is becoming sex slave or death, I am NOT sure I would prefer being a sex slave because I am more than my vagina.

      • Swati says:

        Well, I think nothing is more important than my life so I wouldn’t kill myself but find ways to get out of that situation because I AM more than my vagina. And the point is that in a fort full of women who jumped, how do you know there wasn’t even one woman who thought like me? That they ALL thought like you? There must have been at least one didn’t want to jump. But was forced to jump coz that is the only way to show courage, maintain your purity and stay true to your husband etc. Because that’s what the horrific traditional custom of Jauhar demands you do. In the film Khamosh Paani, they talk of the whole women jumping into wells to escape rioteers. The parents and brothers and village elders were forcing their women to jump. It’s a different partition narratice that has only lately come to light. Before that the conventional thinking was ‘all the girls jumped voluntarily.’ No they did not. Most of them wanted to live. They didn’t care about a ‘possible’ rape/ sex slavery. They wanted to try and get across the border and see if they could live. There must have been at least SOME such women in Chittor that day. who would have rather fought Khilji and his men with their bare hands as opposed to jumping into a fire because that’s what their stupid customs said. Rajputs are so unlikeable. Kept making military blunders and lost EACH AND EVERY battle they fought and then expected their women to be in purdahs and jump into fire. And while no one wants a film to be banned, it’s perfectly fine to ask WHY the film says what it says. Why in this country do women have to hang their heads in shame if they are raped. Why do their parents have to hang their heads in shame? Why would people rather their daughters die than be raped? Life is precious. Nothing… nothing is more important than that. If you have your life, no matter how bad things get, you can manage to get out of it. Bhansali and Padmaavat do not leave us with that hope. And Swara and people like me are disappointed with that vision. Because it is the same stupid vision that we have been fed over and over and over again.

        • Rad says:

          “Find ways to get out of the situation”. do you think if there was a way out, anyone would die rather than take the way out?. Your answer is totally filmi. Nobody is condoning Jauhar or Sati. I am only saying there are women who feel they would rather die than become sex slaves. When faced with such a situation they don’t stop to think “Oh wait, does commiting suicide reduce me to a mere vagina?”. So don’t paint every woman with the same brush.
          Please remember we are not debating if Jauhar is correct or not. We are debating how SLB depicted it. And in those days women believed they are doing the right thing.. They took pride in it. That is what is depicted in the movie.

          • Swati says:

            Actually since this is a fictitious story, we are indeed debating how Bhansali has zeroed in on this particular account and then glorified Jauhar. And movies like this are a good opportunity to debate customs like Jauhar. The pride and joy on Padmini’s face at the closing is absolutely misplaced and deserves to be critiqued. Also, lots of people condone Jauhar. Just ask the Karni Sena who consider it the ultimate symbol of a woman’s purity. Very similar to Sita’s agni pariksha. All I am saying is that it’s time to stop saying the same thing again and again about women. That a woman’s honour and purity is so important that they should kill themselves rather than face a POSSIBLE rape/ sex slavery. Rajputs are not the only people on earth to have grappled with such scenarios. Yet, their solution seems to be amongst the most barbaric. Also, my answer is not filmy. There are countless rape survivors the world over who have written books (including during partition) saying the same thing that I have. If anything, your answer is the one that’s filmy especially considering it’s echoed by Bhansali. I think I have said pretty much all I had to on this topic. Should you have any further queries, please re-read my earlier comments. I don’t want to repeat myself.

        • Rad says:

          “Why in this country do women have to hang their heads in shame if they are raped.”

          Its not at all like that today, Nobody is shamed because they are raped, MAybe in remote villages. Not in cities with educated ppl. I dont know which world you are living in. Same with parents. No parent wants their child to die rather than be raped. But the thing is does someone come and ask you do you want to be raped or would you prefer to die. Rape happens. Nobody is given a choice. But if a woman knew that this was going to happen to her not just once or twice, but she is going to become a sex slave, its very much possible she would prefer death.

          ‘Hoped We Would Be Killed, Not Raped’: ISIS Slave, Now Free, Returns Home
          https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/ex-captive-of-isis-sheds-tears-on-return-to-village-in-northern-iraq-1707034

          • Swati says:

            This link below is the non-filmy real world that I live in. It should correct your village-city-rape-shame misconceptions.

            http://www.firstpost.com/india/guilt-stigma-shame-getting-into-the-minds-of-indian-rape-victims-565840.html

          • Admin says:

            Swati, to be able to discuss the reality of this situation is not easy because none of us (as far as we know) are or were in this situation. We can’t say for sure what we would have done: burn ourselves alive or choose to be kept as a sex slave and be raped multiple times on a daily basis. What we can tell you is, this act of taking women as slaves and brutally raping them is still going on today. For us who are not living that kind of life, it would be idiotic to make a huge brouhaha over how a dramatic-filmmaking style of director chooses to shoot his film. The reason why we said what we did over Swara’s open letter was because we have been following what these Yazidi women went and still go through, and for us, to just take something from a film and make a big cry about it is baseless when there are real issues happening. It’s one thing to get raped and another to be raped and held captive as sex slaves.

            https://nypost.com/2017/11/18/i-was-was-an-isis-slave-and-now-im-fighting-back/
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uoxZEPXtw4
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDniN3k5aQ8
            https://clarionproject.org/isis-opens-sex-slave-market-turkeys-capital/

          • Swati says:

            I am really unable to understand where this kind of thinking is coming from. Jauhar and Sati are archaic customs where women were forced to kill themselves because of the pride of the community. And then it was said that they did it voluntarily. Please do not justify those customs. Sati is a horrific custom and many women have been forcibly burnt at pyres for property reasons and all that. These customs have been banned by modern society because they were barbaric. Our constitution bans them. These are illegal practices because they have no place in modern society. All some of us are asking Bhansali is to stop portraying these customs in an indulgent sort of way. If some individual woman wants to kill herself rather than be raped by ISIS, I am no one to judge/ even talk of her.
            ISIS is barbaric and the women would rather kill themselves – fine – but can those villages organise ritualistic fire and ask the women to jump? NO, that’s sick sick sick. As sick as ISIS.
            Similarly the women of an entire clan/ community jumping into fire voluntarily was a sick event to happen. Please do not justify/ glorify that. That’s all Swara is asking of Bhansali and I see much merit in her letter.

          • Swati says:

            I accept the admin’s point about Swara Bhaskar working in Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo which was also super regressive and all that. But she is not the only one talking about this. There are others also talking about Jauhar and the film’s tremendously regressive politics. NDTV, Indian Express… there are editorials everywhere.
            ‘Indian women are nothing without their husbands’ – this is a notion drilled into us day in and day out. And here is a film starring one of India’s biggest stars and made by one of India’s biggest filmmakers who says THE SAME. Why should it not be questioned? A few posts back the Admin said that showing too many condom ads and sleazy skin show on the big screen is co-related to the rise in creepiness of the Indian male. Well, you can’t have it both ways. If what we see on TV/ big screen, DOES indeed affect us as a society, then seeing a climax like Padmavati will also drill home the fact that an Indian woman without her husband and about to be raped MUST kill herself. I reject that notion.

          • Rad says:

            I’ll just stick to my bottomline point and I’m done with this discussion. Its not about what others say or what others feel. If the woman in question prefers death to being a sex slave you cannot question her feeling. In the movie all the women willingly went to their death. That was their preference, their choice, their decision. And they did it proudly. Whereas if someone is forced to commit Sati or Jauhar we are as much against it as you are. Period

          • Admin says:

            That is because these women don’t have a choice. Where is the time to discuss that it is better to kill themselves? Where is the time to light a fire to do that? ISIS happened suddenly to these women, it was not a plan. They came in and kidnap these women. In the ancient time, it was a tradition and there was time to prepare for it. That’s the difference. To argue about it now, it’s pointless because we have much bigger and serious issues to deal with.

          • Rad says:

            @Admin – This is exactly the point I tried to make

          • Swati says:

            I am just glad that when the courts of this country were banning sati and jauhar (with good reason) there weren’t people like admin on the other end arguing about personal choice and time to strategise.

          • Admin says:

            The fact that you ended up with this conclusion shows how little you understood this whole debate.

          • Swati says:

            I am sorry if you think I misunderstood. I will once again try to clarify what I meant. The point I was making was that Bhansali was glorifying a practice (now outlawed) where women were forcibly burning at the stake due to some misguided notions of honour and purity. These were not 1/2 women but these were entire groups of women and hundreds of widows over a period of time. It was not possible in those days to say NO to a sati/ jauhar.

            By bringing in ISIS… you totally confused the issue. Some women might prefer to die rather than be raped. Some women might prefer rape over death. But to institutionalise it by making a custom where ALL women are supposed to jump into a fire so as to protect their honour before a possible rape- THAT is a problem. And instead of focussing on the horror of that mass burning and understanding it contextually, Bhansali chose to concentrate on showing it as a gesture of love and sacrifice. Which is a problem. The reason is was outlawed by law was coz it was NOT voluntary. It was being forced down the throats of the women. You don’t have to agree with me. As long as you understand what I am saying, it’s cool.

          • sweettooth01 says:

            yaar he was glorifying something that is now outlawed bcos that was a glorified thing back then..it is set in a diffrnt time..
            now ramayana ending is quite similar where she chooses to end her life and it has to be shown in a divine way bcos thats how ppl back then saw it..todays point of view wise why should any woman kill herself bcos she doesnt want to go to her husband and feels disrespected right..
            like so many things..u have bajirao mastani where the lead actor defends marrying a second time to a lady of diffrnt religion..if this was today,no matter what its considered infidelity and thr is no romance and greatness or love in it would ve been more like the karan johar movie KANK..the fact that ppl found tht movie beautiful and understood their love story is bcos it ws set in a time when kings married many women..

            so its important to understand its set in a diffrnt time and to show how those ppl felt when a particular thing was happening..

            lets not mix todays reality and laws with it..

  5. naughtytrini says:

    I dont even have to say anything. Admin hit the sour puss on her head each and every time. Jealousy is really a silly bitch, too bad we have to read about it 🙁

  6. Venus says:

    Hey why are you dissing south film industry here ? Things are the same in all industries,south indians are not monsters.Just FYI deepika and aditi rao hydari are south indians, and has worked in south indian industry.

  7. MiaOh says:

    I am as feminist as they come, but I am with the films writers on this one. This film has nothing to do with her, and she could have let her views known to him in private. May be challenge him to make a film about a feminist heroine like Savitribai Phule, Unniyarcha, Rani Velu Nachiya etc…

    SLB films always have a hero and a heroine, a dance bw two women who compete for the hero’s affections, a ranveer singh solo dance which is high energetic, a deepika dance which is about the virtue and parivaar – and I didn’t even watch this film but I’m sure those who watched the movie will agree with me.

    I find that open letters, apart from the ones that various actresses penned about their experiences with Harvey, are a way for people to insert themselves into issues that have nothing to do with them.

  8. sweettooth01 says:

    i dont understand this..
    when u act in movies like prem ratan dhan payo,a movie set in the present age that is so regressive, that shows a man trying to tk pictures of a girl with a bad intention as humour– how can u talk about a practice that was totally considered holy back in a time when our grandparents dint exist..things were diffrnt back then..based on swaras logic,then even war is wrong..she shudve felt bad na that how 2 kingdoms can constantly be at war and how someone can come and loot them of their wealth..how own relatives kill each other for the throne and ppl laughing and singing praises for it in agreement..so sad na.. :p
    did she feel like anus then..??u know a shitty feeling..a historical film shows what happened then,with the mindsets of ppl back then..history can never be about todays perceptions of those days reality..isnt that the whole beauty and essence of history..it teaches you about ur roots,the whole journey a transformation that happened not over 1 day but took ages to finally reach where we are today and where we might be in future..she shud stop taking historical dramas so seriously..

  9. Rekha Rai says:

    I think Rohit Shetty answered her best. Let the film breathe please. Finally it got a release. In fact Badrinath Ki Dulhania was a much more regressive film set in modern day times (current day “Context”) where the girl was stalked, kidnapped by her suitor, and was threatened to be beheaded by Varun’s dad in the film. On top of that the attempted rape of Varun by other men as a laughing point. I was watching with my caucasian friend and so disturbed by the casualness by which they depicted the stalking/kidnapping and then Alia finding that all ok. Where is the outrage then? Yes, movies should be careful in certain areas so as not to glorify behavior like Eve teasing, rape etc that is common in India today (remember all those “chodho mujhe” scenes in Hindi movies where Shakti Kapoor and other bad guys would molest the girls? – glad those are gone.) BUT in this context – where an actress from the same film fraternity was threatened to be beheaded, where bigwigs like Priyanka Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan who are “global superstars” did not speak up once about this, this is NOT the time to pen an open letter about how you feel reduced.

    • Raj says:

      Fully agree with what you said. In fact what happened in movie Raanjhana. Glorification of stalking? All this fool brigade of Bollywood has there minds not inside their head

  10. Ananya says:

    Lol I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. This was worser than BW silence on Padma controversy. She didn’t lift a finger when her colleague or a director she worked with was getting threatened but has issue with vagina.

    But you know what MY main issue is with her letter. AGREE to all her points, but why on earth does she think Vagina is such a small or weak organ of her body?! If she thinks so how on earth is she talking about feminism?! That is one school that I ache is misinterpreted ALWAYS. Go learn the basic and preach.

    Honestly you know this controversy, since I followed it all through made me open my eyes on many celebs. Didn’t even need blinds to see what they are. Never will I be able to see many the same way as before. And one such person is Rohit Shetty. His films are shit to me but he was the last person I expected a defense for Bhansali. The way he talked, he proved he is no different from any filmmaker.

    By the way Admin, heard Swara had a role in Guzarish. So she does have his number. All in the name of publicity. Or at least wait till the film recovered it’s revenue. This is so much like Kangana beating the iron when it’s hot which, despite their intelligent pointers, make us want to overlook bz of timing.

  11. prvilla says:

    Swara who? Oh wait she’s irrelevant!Honestly this looks like someone probed her to write this at such a time to further fuel the fire!(a.k.a salty sonam kapoor)It’s okay to have an opinion but this came off as more of a useless rant!Guys please do the math on this one!The irony is swara is highly educated..so maybe put that to something more productive and articulate next time!

  12. Lisa says:

    Admin, just want to say you are awesome. Loved reading this. And I agree wth you 100000%!!

  13. Kiran101 says:

    I see people do not want to be hostage of sickness or slavery even today. How yazidi women fight until last bullet and then kill themselves to avoid being sex slaves of ISIS. How some people prefer ‘euthenization’ over severe sickness and infirmary. The reason these women decided in the past for ‘Jauhar’ so that their deceased bodies are not violated by enemy. I have read some european history where queens and their young daughters were ‘raped’ and flayed post losing the war. In fact the movie shows how sad it is for losing party of the war.

    In any case… there will be nutters everywhere protesting and writing faltu open letters . Her friend Sonam would have died to do this role , if only if she ever would have been offered.

  14. Deep says:

    I am just gonna write what I posted on Pinkvilla.. sorry OSOP for that 😉
    A movie is an imagination put on screen. Imagination can be anything… crude, meek, bold, fantasy, vulgar, non-sense, anything…. and it needs to be seen in that context…. Don’t watch movies for a message.. read relevant books instead….I guess all these actors think that they are role-models for the youth (all in their head of course) when the fact is that the audience don’t give sh!t…. Have seen some of the most violent movies but trust me I did not go on a killing spree…. I am sane enough to understand that all movies are staged…..I am not someone who gets brainwashed into doing things against my will…..
    Now I am gonna take a wild guess here: Admin, can it be possible that this letter might actually be written by So-dumb?? (she is bestie with Swara and Padmavati’s nemesis after all) cause this entire letter talks only nonsense…..I will say the only place this OPEN letter needs to go is an OPEN TOILET…..hehehehehehehe…..

  15. Deepu says:

    U totally missed the point! She is talking about the glorification of the scene in the climax, not just depicting it with objectivity but celebrating it! For that matter I am with her: why choose this story to tell? Don’t we have enough heinous crimes against women that in 2918 we need to see a shit Billy movie singing the virtues of a Queen who rather burn alive (is there a more painful and worse way to die?) to save her ‘honor ‘?

    • Admin says:

      If Bhansali made the film without this ending, people would have called him a coward because he did not go the whole way. This was the way things ended for the queen and it is her story, it’s how it ends. It would be stupid to do a whole movie on her and then miss her ending. Again, it’s what they do to the Jesus films, isn’t it? As painful as it is to watch an innocent man be nailed, it is what happened.

      • Deepu says:

        Watch the film again please! The end is GLORIFIED not just a depiction.. it is a CELEBRATION of the practice not a mere stating of the fact. Yes of course if he chooses to tell this story (but why oh why) then Bhansali has to show the end. The problematic issue is however HOW he chooses to show it. And that is what Swara is rightly pointing towards..

        • sweettooth01 says:

          i watched the film and i liked it..
          a queen sacrificed her life for what she thought was correct based on the mindset of ppl those days..so yes it will be glorified..a beautiful and brave queen walking into fire..its history..its not set in present scenario..also i liked the part where she also reasons it out saying this will be biggest defeat to khilji that despite winning the war he will still lose..they explained it beyond the killing oneself bcos their husband is dead..also in the kings days women would do sati to protect themselves from the evil doings of the opposite rulers..rape trauma physical injuries inhuman treatment etc etc etc..so in those days they found sati to be more honorable than the trauma theyl go thru if the enemies find them..it is irrelevant today,but how it came into existence and why it continued for generations is important to understand too..those days ppl’s mindsets and values were on a different level–some good and some bad–but definitely different

          also based on ur glorification logic– if ramayana was made today–how can they show sita going to forest just bcos some lame ass guy doubted her purity..in the end she cudve divorced rama and lived happily why did she choose to end her life how dare they show it as a symbol of bravery and self respect when shes ending her life bcos shes mad at her husband..lol..why do they glorify that ending in ramayana..??
          if mahabharat was made today–why wud draupadi accept 5 husbands just bcos kunti says so,her opinion doesnt matter..??still draupadi is seen as woman of strength when she cant voice her own opinions..why shud gandhari who blindfolds herself for her husband sake be seen as some pativrata..??
          even in lord shivas story,his first wife,sati devi is known to be offended and kills herself in the fire..the tv serials showed it in some 2 weeks long episodes glorified it, whr they show her a goddess who is angry and hurt and hence did the ultimate thing..u cannot question things that happened or were written many many centuries ago..thats how it was back then..to show it casually would mean not understanding them and their story..

          sati was considered holy in those days and to show it normally would kill the whole essence of her sacrifice(considering those days mindsets-since u dont have a back to the future kind of guy who went back to tht era from 2018 to sit and judge them there.. so it will be shown how those days ppl saw it to be — honorable)
          a lot of things we do today with pride maybe in next 100 years will be considered brutal but doesnt mean if smone in future makes a film on our present generation ignores our mindsets..?? no naa..same thing..

          like i mentioned and will do so again–history can never be about today’s way of thinking..its always about showing what has been..

          so its very simple–u see it as a historical film and understand those days mindsets and be grateful for the comfortable life we live today

          • GeekyGal says:

            Padmavat is poem not history.
            Origination of Sati: According to Diodorus the practice of sati started because Indians married for love, unlike the Greeks who favoured marriages arranged by the parents. When inevitably many of these love marriages turned sour, the woman would often poison the husband and find a new lover. To end these murders, a law was therefore instituted that the widow should either join her husband in death or live in perpetual widowhood.

            Origination of Jauhar: Scholars disagree about the roots of this custom. Veena Oldenburg states that the roots of this practice “almost certainly” lie in the internecine Rajput warfare. Kaushik Roy states, in contrast, that the jauhar custom was observed only during Hindu-Muslim wars, but not during internecine Hindu-Hindu wars among the Rajputs. We were not there to witness that they walked into pure with a smile or were *forced* into pure by zealous families.

          • Raj says:

            And how did you come to the conclusion that it was a poem and not history as you were not there at that time to witness it?

          • pooja says:

            Even those shcoler who say its friction same say khilaji even die before ratan Singh crown as king of chittor which is ridiculous bcz their historical proof that khilaji attack with full force on chittor give change of Kazakhstan’s magoles to attack Delhi sultanate absense of khijali.this Muslim shcoler fooling everyone including world media n levelling India as stupid n showing they r fighting for friction queen when there so many real issue for women.

          • GeekyGal says:

            My last bit on this topic. Customs start due to glorification of actions. It took 500 years for India to finally get rid of this practice. Life is precious. Last words of Jyoti (Nirbhaya) were that she wanted to live. Why am I commenting on this frivolous topic. I have a personal stake being a girl in this country. Peace out!

          • Raj says:

            Totally out of context comment. There was always a particular reason behind any custom to start which was very practical at that point of time. The customs became problems when those got followed just for the sake of it and when their practicality was no more valid. It happens in all societies and all the time. Nowhere the movie glorified that custom and it is not coming back now since it is not practical. All the movie showed that that queen did it and what were “HER” reasons to do it. Anybody can raise any kind of questions of any movie. Now, I can also raise same questions that why in movie “DARR”, Shahrukh’s character even being a maniac and stalker was shown in sympathetic light? Should I follow what he did in that movie. So, the customs were not a problem but blindly following them was problematic.

          • Pooja says:

            Its just film based on queen who was live in 13th century. chill now how slb change can change story of queen just sake of same silly ppl’s mindset.gosh its history nothing to do 2day time how many woman u seen to doing jauhar or sati plz tell us.ht of stupidly.

          • sweettooth01 says:

            also even if its a poem,it was set in a diffrnt era just like a lot of our epics are..so when we make movies on ramayana today,we have to keep mindsets of people those days and not about present days emotions right..we are all anti sati as well and we are aware of the relentless efforts of our social reformers to bring this change but this incident,whether a fictional work or really happened was set in a time before the reforms started and when people found it honorable and the movie only displayed their emotions and glorified it bcos thats how they saw it(how do i know ppl in those days found in honorable-my great grandmothers stories about what she heard when she ws a kid from her parents)
            we r all allowed to keep diffrnt opinions on the same thing, this being mine 🙂

          • pooja says:

            Go google it.there place where padmavati n others do jauhar.padmavat is friction not padmavati malik have hear story about padmavati throught villages’s women who do forkdance in honor of padmavati then malik write own friction story of padmavati.story of padmavati n khijli is true.is looklike joke that Rajasthan’s women read malik’s padmavat start performing when forget that century even 2day majority of Rajasthani villager girls go to school or complete education.most childbraid came from rajastani.its same Muslim history scolor start calling its friction for their ego’s satisfaction rest of world buy it.but go ask those villager woman who perform forkdance based on padmavati is they even heard of malik”s name forget about reading the book?? Go search it slb film based on villagers’s women forkperformance song not padmavat cbfc bord forced slb put declaimer to avoid karnisena’s protests.

        • Sara says:

          The end is a celebration of a soul’s journey to the other side without getting trapped in the worldly bodily deeds. without compromising and giving up ones values and staying true to their God and not getting converting to Islam. Its big, its spiritual. Superficial people cannot understand the debt of it.

          • prvilla says:

            Keep Islam or religious views out of it,please!It may be a trigger or sensitive topic for some users,as this site is globally viewed by people of ALL religions and walks of life!But yes I do understand the underlying strong sentiments some people bare towards Rani Padmini’s sacrifice and the strong meaning behind it.

          • Sara says:

            Are you kidding. Its a fact. Historically speaking Islam has been widely spread through conversion. The purpose of mogul invasion was to spread Islam. Did you see the movie.?? Khilji said his purpose was to rule the world. That also means covert everything he captured into Islam. They burnt the HIndu scriptures and destroyed artifacts. Why cover truth. Truth cannot be & should not be offensive. India was attacked from all the sides and still is. Now the attack is happening through Journalism. Fake new articles etc etc…Follow the money trail and you will make the link. Anonymous ceo’s journalist with fake names……

        • Rad says:

          @Deepu – It is not about how we feel or how Bhansali feels. Its about how the women feel. They feel proud sacrificing their lives rather than fall prey to being abused. So they celebrate it. And that is what is depicted

  16. Tina says:

    I am going to paste this excerpt from Pulitzer winning journalist Rukmini Callimachi’s article about ISIS and sexual slavery here, for context.

    “In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.”
    Link: https://nytimes.com/2015/08/14/world/middleeast/isis-enshrines-a-theology-of-rape.html

    Encouraged to rape a 12 YEAR OLD my darling Swara!! and they are doing this, knowing that in our modern age the world is fully aware and repulsed by it. Can you imagine what it must have been like in the 14th century?When the choice is between a horrifying death after prolonged torture and killing yourselves, why would you select prolonged torturous death? And if that is still your personal choice, good for you, but it’s a deeply personal choice.

    BTW I don’t suppose you also think that the soldiers who go into the last scene of Padmavat, knowing they would die in battle, were being stripped of their right to live too? Or for that matter, any soldier who knows they will be in the line of fire, and yet willingly step to the front lines anyway? Again, if your choice is to be a pacifist, good for you, that too being a very personal choice, but you don’t have the right to belittle theirs. I don’t suppose you are going to equate this to Sati too? That false equivalency just blows my mind!

    I wonder what your reaction to ‘Tamas’ would be? To the scene of collective suicide of Sikh women in it? Or to the South Indian epic poem about a similar incident when a local kingdom (Bobbili) was attacked by French Armies in 18th century. None of these are about glorification of Jauhar. It’s about recognizing the horrendous choices women in these circumstances face. Not to recognize or respect that choice, especially after the fact, but instead impose your own opinions on it is a insult to their agency, and IMO passive aggressive way of demeaning them.

    At a time, when across the world women are fighting for their agency and equal share in decision making, your (dis)missive is doubly sad and wrong headed.

    PS. The only thing I agree with you about is the part about the man being ashamed that his mom survived being horrifying. But what has his one experience have to do with the movie is beyond me.

  17. Nar <3 Kangana says:

    I am no grammar perfectionist but someone should have helped her edit the final print. Legit! This is the first time I read the letter in full, the first time I couldn’t even get halfway through.

    Y is she attacking Bhansali? It is his film! He has every right to tell the story he wants to.

    They are many aspects of that film I wish was different but the climax was not one of them. As a movie lover, I respected the film/storytelling for what it was. It was theatrical – Khilji the barbaric, dirty, tainted monster (but RS understands the audience & ends up being charismatic, charming (in a twisted way) & the ultimate anti-hero) and Shahid – the good, honest-Rajput King (unfortunately he turned out annoying). Deepika was lovely as Rani Padmini – despite being a victim she never loses her identity and Khilji NEVER gets what he sought out.

    But it was just a movie afterall, adapted from a 15th-century poem (that most historians say was a work of fiction) – y did she take it personally? what made her feel like nothing but a walking-talking vagina? Y is she attacking SLB for all the crimes against women? Why is she attacking him for displaying the 13th-century Rajput traditions & acts of war?

    Many of these privilege women have no grasp of reality – it is quite sad, the expect everything to be in accordance with the life they’ve lived and disregarded the challenges other woman experience

  18. Hmmm says:

    Umm it is just a movie. That too a SLB movie. It is not a factual film or documentary. Yes women used to commit suicide this way in times past and maybe some still do or are forced to. Not sure how this movie is to blame when it has been happening since times past. How else was he suppose to film this scene? All his movies are over the top. You can’t cherry pick one movie and go to town about vaginas and suicide. The horrible things happening to women in India continue to happen regardless of glorified scences in a film. Instead of focusing on a silly film Swara should focus on what is happening in real life in India.

    • GeekyGal says:

      Hmmm SLB submitted this movie as historical . This was neither declared as work of fiction nor was the disclaimer added regarding Sati practice when it was first submitted for certification.

      • Hmmm says:

        I don’t think a disclaimer in a movie is going to stop someone from raping someone, someone committing suicide or a someone from abusing a woman. People should focus on real life atrocities not knit picking the factual or nonfactual content of a silly movie. Lots of anger and threats towards a bollywood film and its director and actress but hardly any noise on the many disgusting things that happen in real life to Indian women on a daily basis.

  19. GeekyGal says:

    You guys have already made up your mind. However, firstly there was no queen padmini in history. The poem Padmavat was written 200 years after Khilji died. Khilji however was demonized in past because of his bisexual nature. Most of his conquests were led by Malik Kafur. As per the poem Padmavat a parrot was responsible for all the mess. As per Padmavat, Rawal Singh died fighting another hindu king. His two Queens committed sati. Khilji (khal drogo in SLB’s Padmavat) then reached Chittor and then rest of the women committed mass suicide (Jauhar).

    SLB glorified Jauhar. That was wrong. He had already taken too much cinematic liberty. He could have done more perhaps. Specially in a country like India where women are still witch-hunted for their properties and where babies are killed, raped and murdered. Glorification of an act that was best left in past is wrong in modern context. Till very recently women were pushed into their husbands’ pyres. Women are still left in the ghats of banaras and at mercies of god men. Anything from the likes of Judwa 2 to this movie which is a fiction based on fiction is wrong.

    • Amanda says:

      I think one should stop putting onus of improving society solely on films.. Films are medium to tell stories not to morally educate a crowd.. I think the society has to play a larger part in changing perception/status of women.. Governments have to do a lot in this direction… Imagine if films were to give moral science lessons to crowds, I bet nobody would have watched them…

      In this film, the director is showing a fictional story and since this story was set in the past, whatever social customs existed then will have to be shown.. The film makers have already put disclaimer at the start of the film.. I believe audiences have intelligence to distinguish between a fiction and reality and between good and bad deeds…

      • GeekyGal says:

        If only indian audience was this smart. All those 80-90s movies with hero’s sister getting kidnapped and raped made rapes a normalized phenomenon. Want revenge – rape, feel someone is arrogant – rape, got your advances thwarted – throw acid. Movies are a very strong medium and it’s high time film makers realize this.

      • Kiran101 says:

        The only thing i ever want to see in Indian/hollywood cinema is never to show the only way to put a woman in place is sexual assault. Want to tame a shrewd ? want to teach a lesson to rich arrogant woman ? get her pregnant on sly…hit on her modesty. i hated ishaqzaade movie for that reason. That is so old fashioned style of making movie.

    • sweettooth01 says:

      even if this was a fictional work..it was based on a fictional story or a history story based on a diffent era which will show sentiments of ppl in that era only..not ours but theirs..a lot of epics written ages ago even if made today will still show ppl voicing sentiments of ppl those days–irresp of whether theyr just epic stories or actually happened.u have to consider the times in which they wr written..
      also we dont know exactly if padmavati was a myth or really happened..thr r historical works that say she existed while some deny that and some say the war obvsly happened but for reasons unknown

    • Nancy says:

      The same people criticizing Swara here would take offense if the British made a film tomorrow glorifying the colonialism of India. The British thought they were better colonizers than other Europeans & India was blessed to have them. It is a fact that the British were much better than the French or the Dutch. To glorify colonialism is foolish. Similarly to glorify Jauhar by shooting it as a wedding sequence is morally irresponsible. Shooting it like a documentary or a matter of fact way would be fine. I think half the people are missing the point of the open letter because they are so hung up on the word vagina. If that is what you took from it, you need to read it Again. SLB is great but politically vapid

      • Manisha says:

        I don’t think anyone is focused solely on the word vagina as I’m assuming OSOP readers are not aunties who are offended by the correct anatomical term – she could have used other vulgar words for that matter and her letter still would be nonsensical. I don’t think anyone is offended by the word itself but the context of it being used.

        What moral responsibility does SLB have in showing a movie – which is a form of expression and art? It’s ironic that she pretty much wants SLB to constrict his artistic vision which is what the Sena folks are trying to do. Where does it stop then when we all have an opinion of how a movie should portray fiction or non-fiction even? Telling SLB he should be more politically aware of how events from centuries ago are portrayed – then where do we draw the line in what creative freedom artists have? That’s the point of movies/arts – a director’s vision of life, events, people. SLB’s movies have always been grandiose – did you expect any of his scenes to not match that grandeur? As I’ve said before, it’s a movie ffs!

        If this is her attempt at a feminist rant, imo she has failed. If it only takes a fictional movie to make her feel like a vagina only, then what progress in REAL life have women made? For her to go on and on about portraying the sati/jauhar scene as morally wrong – what about actual evil going on today which are not a choice women have chose to make? Why not write an open letter on (as admin correctly states) the crimes and evils happening to women right in her own backyard? Why falsely use a fictional movie to grasp at straws by throwing in random thoughts here and there (like the US lynching)?

        Also, she should know what the movie was about as she herself said she was so excited to view it, she saw it first day first ticket. Then why the false pretense of being shocked and feeling reduced to a vagina only (bit over dramatic from watching just a movie no?) when she along with rest of India at this point know what Padmavaat was about? Of course it was going to include such scenes! Doing otherwise, people would still get butthurt. In this politically charged climate today, you can’t win with anyone sadly.

        Poor SLB can’t catch a break – wish we can go back in time when we watched a movie and came out feeling like we liked it or didn’t. Who comes out watching a movie and is so worked up they have to write a public open letter?? Odd times indeed.

        PS: Didn’t realize i wrote so much but I guess this is my “open letter” then haha

      • sweettooth01 says:

        @nancy–british were better colonisers than the dutch..?? an empire that was single handedly responsible for nearly 10 million deaths during the bengal famine,brutal treatment meted out in the jails of andaman and many places,jalianwalabagh massacre and so many more..
        so a movie that glorifies the british rule is obvsly offensive to us as indians since weve heard how our ancestors were treated and had to suffer at their hands..
        but if theres a movie made on some good britishers during the rule such as sir arthur coton who is prayed and respected by ppl back then and even today,then we will like it and wont tk an offence to it..

        u have movies like lagaan and kisna that showed how not all britishers were bad and ppl dint find these movies offensive..

        bottom line–show things the way they were..the movie is not advertising that sati is divine etc,but only reflected sentiments of women n society those days..while movies glorifying british rule dont reflect indians sentiments entirely..theres a difference right

  20. Manisha says:

    I want to call her a air headed uneducated living-in-a-bollywood bubble idiot but I can’t 😛 I looked her up and she even has a master’s degree! But I guess working along side and befriending airheads made her lose how to process thoughts reasonably. It’s like she’s throwing *hit at the wall and hope something sticks. Her diatribe makes no sense – it’s a movie ffs! Unfortunately, I’ve lost any respect for her as an actor because I can’t look beyond her personal idiocy (kind of like Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

    By constantly using the word ‘vagina’ does not make one more educated and making her verbal diarrhea sound any more cohesive. It’s not like SLB wrote the movie from his imagination – it’s based on a centuries old poem! Like the Karni Sena folks – she needs to take a chill pill and watch a movie as just that.

    Admin – I suggest writing an open letter to her open letter hehe 🙂

  21. Amanda says:

    Nice post admin… Swara’s open letter is meaningless and flop… It doesn’t make sense to me… That letter is too long and insensible… She has addressed it to wrong person…Didn’t she read the disclaimer before the movie?
    But Admin,
    I don’t agree to your comment “Why not use the South Indian film industry as an example? Heard they still treat actresses badly over there.” Actresses are treated the same way as in bollywood… Also there are lot of actresses in south india who are treated very respectfully. – Samantha,Nithya Menen,Anushka,Trisha,Nayantara, and many more….. South has more hero and heroine worship…Many of south actresses (eg Jayalalitha,Roja etc) are able to convert their popularity into vote bank which bollywood actresses have never achieved….Kushboo and Namitha have temples built in their name.. If you referring to roles of actresses,then I must say,actress’s roles are smaller on screen but even that is changing now…

    The treatment of people depends on how one conducts oneself…. If you are professional,hard working and talented,you can earn respect anywhere in the world…

    • Admin says:

      Oh, no. We were referring to that case where they kidnap the actress and molested her in the car. What you are referring to is how fans treat these leading ladies, we are talking about how industy men treat these ladies. There’s a huge difference.

      • Amanda says:

        It was just Dileep who did that.. Your statement look more generic… Not all the industry men of South are like that…. Amitabh who molests/tries raping actresses of his daughter’s age are no less a criminal…he is lucky,he hasn’t been caught yet….

        • Admin says:

          Oh, you have no idea! There are lots more stories and there, they also don’t care about star kids, even they get casting couch offers.

          • Amanda says:

            What I wanted to say is South film industries are as good or bad as bollywood when in comes to such matters.. I don’t believe that it is worst than bollywood….

          • Admin says:

            You can guess from the number of actors, who let their daughters work in films.

          • Amanda says:

            Many senior stars are conservative. Hence they don’t want their daughters to act,except Kamal Hassan who is open minded…. Also senior stars like Chiranjeevi, rajni etc refuse to act opposite their contemporaries’ daughters citing awkwardness.. In addition, the fans of senior superstars hate the idea of watching their daughters in glamorous avatars.. But, I can still find some star daughters entering film industry like priyadarshan’s daughters, actress radha’s daughter etc..

          • sweettooth01 says:

            @admin–star kids daughters dont work bcos the fan groups in south dont agree to seeing their superstars daughter romancing onscreen..a lot of heroes had their daughters to try out in movies(including mahesh babus sister) but due to severe backlash from fans a lot of these ideas had to be dropped..

            also in andhra telangana states ppl and families r a bit more traditional i believe so they dont like the idea of acting in films..so a reason why u dont see these girls in general acting in films ( tollywood).its mostly dominated by girls from other states..

            casting couch sadly exists everywhere..

            u have star kids who r now taking up acting more seriously–be it arjun’s daughter or kamal hassan’s or a few telugu actresses daughters or as amanda has stated priyadarshan’s..

            incidents like bhavana’s are sad..but such instances happened even in bollywood some going to the extent of physical and mental trauma too..so i think before stereotyping the north east and south,its imp to be a bit more careful in such topics since these 2 regions are constantly stereotyped and even if u say one small thing,ppl r alrdy done with it so we myt make a hugee deal about it.. :p 🙂 taking offence to one stereotype at a time :p lol

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