Actor Swara Bhaskar, who is known for being outspoken about her thoughts and has constantly portrayed characters with great strength, has called out director Sanjay Leela Bhansali for glorifying Sati and Jauhar in his film Padmaavat, in an open letter published in The Wire on Saturday.
Extremely disappointed by the film's climax, which features Padmavati (played by Deepika Padukone) walking in immense anger as other women follow her to commit self-immolation, Swara said after watching the particular scene "I felt reduced to a vagina–only" as it made her feel like all the "minor achievements that women and women’s movements have made over the years– like the right to vote, the right to education, equal pay for equal work, maternity leave... all of it was pointless; because we were back to basics."
The actor said she understands that Jauhar and Sati are a part of India's social history but that certainly doesn't mean that one should make a film about it with no perspective or, without a comment on such a "misogynistic" practice.
"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," Swara wrote.
Swara said she was hopeful that Bhansali would offer "some sort of a critique" of Sati and Jauhar in the film.
"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.
"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," she added.
She signed off the letter as "Swara Bhasker, Desirous of Life".