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Swara Bhasker on Padmaavat Open Letter: I Didn't Realise Vagina was a Cuss Word in This Country

Besides constantly breaking the ground by working in so many unconventional films, Swara has often used her celebrity "megaphone" to voice her opinion regarding social and political issues.

Shrishti Negi | News18.com

Updated:March 28, 2018, 4:37 PM IST
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Swara Bhasker on Padmaavat Open Letter: I Didn't Realise Vagina was a Cuss Word in This Country
Image: Twitter/ Swara Bhaskar
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As many know, actor Swara Bhasker has never been one to be shy about putting forth her ideas and opinions, which she expresses so fervently. This was certainly the case when she wrote an open letter to filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali in January, criticizing him for the glorification of age-old practices of Sati and Jauhar in Padmaavat.

The actor had said that the film was disappointing to an extent that it left her feeling reduced to a “vagina only”. She had also stated that she understood Jauhar and Sati were 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.”

The letter had stirred up a major hullabaloo in the industry with Bhasker receiving a lot of flak.

“I thought it was polite. I didn’t realise that we think vagina is a cuss word in this country,” said Bhasker at a session titled “Reclaiming the idea space” at Bridge 2018.

The actor, who was recently in the capital for the day-long festival of ideas and conversations on gender empowerment by Caravan magazine, was joined by Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha spokesperson Amrita Bhinder, author Gurmehar Kaur, activist Shehla Rashid Shora and social activist Shilpi Tiwari on the panel.

Besides constantly breaking the ground by working in so many unconventional films like Tanu Weds Manu, Nil Battey Sannata and Anaarkali of Aarah, Swara has often used her celebrity "megaphone" to voice her opinion regarding social and political issues - be it starting an online campaign against mob lynching or demanding the reinstatement of Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH).

However, the actor said she was clueless as to “why she has gotten pushed into this champion of women’s causes as I have never done anything for any women’s movement.”

“Suddenly because I wrote some three four open letters (I’m like a professional open letter writer), people have started saying, ‘Oh! You care so much about women’s issues.’ I’m like really? Do I?”

She continued, “I think the idea space today is completely vitiated and it’s just not the women who have to reclaim it, it is everyone who doesn’t agree with the dominant narrative. What is happening in our country today is that everything is being seen within a certain framework and it’s a very dangerous framework which is built on some problematic notions or a certain notion of what the love of your country is and should be for every single person in this country. So, when you talk about reclaiming the idea space it is a lot of us who are being forced into places to reclaim it.”

In another session, titled 'May a 1000 stories bloom - What will it take to make Bollywood truly representative?', Swara talked about how over the years the filmmakers have refrained from dealing with the issue of casteism in Hindi cinema.

“I'm not saying this as an actor but also an audience, caste is almost completely absent in Hindi cinema barring maybe in a few films. Either it's absent or if it's there, it's so thoughtlessly represented as in (I hate to be saying this but...) 'Padmaavat'," she said.

She added, “I think that again and again the way which we see caste is this completely almost blind uncritical glorification and a glorification which completely puts into the margins any other caste. So it would seem Rajasthan has no history of any other castes other than the brave and heroic and honorable Rajputs.”
| Edited by: ---
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