Swara Bhaskar’s open letter screams for attention

By Koral Dasgupta

Koral Dasgupta

The merits or demerits of Padmaavat as a film had stopped concerning us long back, way before the release of the film.

We discussed the Rajput as a community, the fairness behind “distorting history” as portrayed through a fiction scripted long back, the grand arrival of Karni Sena in the cultural, social and political scape, the authority of Censor Board and Supreme Court, et al.

By the time the Karni Sena agreed to take a back seat, the feminists took over. From the myriad thought-leaders on social media, active debates have surfaced from various schools.

Raja Ratan Singh brought Padmavati in his life as his second wife! So regressive is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s taste for romance. Sitting in the dark unintellectual corner at my home, I was thinking Padmaavat was a “period-drama” adapted from a poet’s elaborate imagination! Of course we haven’t grown up hearing stories of kings having many wives.

This is the first time that we came across such a royal love story and we must judge this film with the thorns of modern feminist morales. Bhansali’s creative tastes thus get slaughtered with pointed daggers, to keep the controversy on. After all, why should boys have all the fun?

Bhansali is also guilty of getting his heroine destroy herself in fire, at the end of the film.

Jauhar, or the custom of Sati, that reminds of terrible cruelty on women practiced ages ago, to retain their “purity”. The film makes a point where the women chose death over submitting themselves to the violators, where filth of desire is defeated by their respect for self. And this, has been ridiculously interpreted as an attempt to glorify heinous practices.

Again my illiterate brain raises its verbose.

If Padmaavat is a glorification of Jauhar, which will notoriously push a section of the masses to find glamour in such self-sacrifice, then how many innocent people took law into their own hands after watching Shah Rukh Khan in Raees or Bachchan Sahab in Sarkar? As far as my memory goes, the same crowd shouting hoarse atPadmaavat today was defending Khan in Raees when he was accused of glorifying a gangster.

All because, “women have the right to live, even if they are molested or tortured.”

God knows where this even comes from.

I have been a great admirer of Swara Bhaskar. But I found her open letter to Bhansali screaming desperately to attract eyeballs, as if she is either avenging some personal grudges or she just needs to score some brownie points through some hopeless words thrown in poor taste.

I sincerely believe that Bhaskar doesn’t need either, but as a human being and not just as a woman, her sharp edged dagger has bruised me really hard.

She really didn’t need the cushion of a well-planned viral content; neither does a fine artist like her deserve this protest from my end.

Or so I believe.

But then, we have brought ourselves to this.

No, I am not saying this just in the context of that one word she has so obsessively used in her open letter. Not that I am ashamed of any part of my body or live in denial of the roles they play to get me functioning as a woman. But just like I will not roam around naked to prove my pride, I will also not apply the verbal equivalent of the same through bold use of anatomical terms used in complete irrelevance, just to demonstrate how liberated is my restlessness!

I wonder how many more social sections would raise their heads to claim some inches of web-space leaning on the broken shoulder of a director, already thrown into his own Jauhar by contradictory forces, united by their hunger for cheap publicity!

4 replies »

  1. The basic point is that she is against the glorification of sati. And I will stand by her to have said it…It is important to value life instead of glorifying suicide…..I am sure today if we can, the women at that time also could have found a better way out if they would have tried and respected the precious life over death(easy way out)


    • Sati is the widow burning herself (or forced onto ) her late husband’s funeral pyre, whereas Jauhar was when Rajasthani women of a specific region collectively immolated themselves to avoid capture, rape ,slavery and probably religious conversion. It was the middle ages -not a good time to be a woman anywhere on earth- when women were regarded as mere chattels and extensions of the men in their lives – when being raped was regarded as a deadly sin . The tale is about what has already happened , u can’t change it and show something else. Even today rape victims are shamed,families targeted ,what hope does a woman in the 1200s have?


  2. Good post…you make some good points. Swara Bhaskar belongs to a breed that will never make it to the very top and therefore hides behind this so-called or pseudo-intellectualism…good that you called it out…


  3. Irrespective of how one found the expression by Swara Bhaskar, the fact remains that in Padmaawat, what could have have been a more respectable Muslim king is unnecessarily shown as a sensual pleasure bigot right from the beginning. This scream of Bhaskar’s is no more unjustified or a scream to get noticed. Indeed, it may be a deliberate attention-catcher on the same moral grounds and therefore asking you to assess it to be just and apply the same rules to Bhansali. The director has played overmuch with what little evidence historians provide: that that King was not any more morally depraved that Akbar, who seems to be praised by all. We seem to have been cast into modes of praise of only some Muslim kings (and only some Hindu kings) by forces that at this moment are creating further divisiveness in our country than it can tolerate without being ruptured and discarded as a goner…


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