Unless you are living under a rock, you would have read Swara Bhaskar’s letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali where she said she felt reduced to a body part after viewing the film. Swara’s reason for provocation – the Jauhar scene where she felt the director had glorified the ancient practice where Rajput women leapt into fire to save themselves from an invader.
However, now the filmmaker and lead actress Deepika Padukone have spoken up. Sanjay Leela Bhansali himself has come out to explain his interpretation of the medieval custom of mass immolation undertaken by the palace women to avoid dishonour at the hands of the enemy. Speaking about the same in a recent interview, Bhansali stated, “Jauhar, in this context, is an act of war. Our men (Rajput warriors in the film) died on the battlefield, but the war didn’t end there. The Rajput women wage the (final) war. They decide that not a single woman or child would be subjected to rape or violation. That is what happened then. So, are people questioning Padmavati’s decision? The character who performed jauhar was convinced that it was an act of war. It’s an empowering thought. She didn’t allow the enemy to win. It was a victory for dignity and honour. This is what happened and I can’t question her.”
Leading lady Deepika has also come out to defend the scene, which has been accused of glorifying mass suicide by immolation. She said, “I think people miss the fact that this film was set in an era – in the 12th and 13th century when rituals like this were practiced.”
Addressing actress Swara Bhaskar’s open letter in which she said she felt like a ‘vagina’ at the end of the film, Deepika maintained, “She probably missed the disclaimer at the beginning of the film… You probably went out to buy some popcorn and missed the initial disclaimers that come out. I think, secondly, the fact that it is important to view a film in totality and to see in which period it was set in. Third of all, I think for me this film is not just about the act (jauhar) that they all committed, but it stood for so much more. For me, it’s a celebration of women and their strength, power and dignity.”