Why I Object, Resent And Reject ‘Padmaavat’

“Padmavati” or “Padmaavat”, poetry or movie, whether it hurts the sentiments of Rajputs or Muslims – that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the entire theme and the plot of the movie.

All the furore surrounding the movie, the anger shown by the wrong people for the wrong reason towards the right people, made me contemplate writing about this film which is actually much behind the times.

The glorification of sati in TV serials and movies force me to think whether I should be chaste like these women or should I celebrate my womanhood by exploring my sexuality, boeing free from the question of morality, the question family honour? Because yes, honour does not reside in my vagina.

I am outraged by the movie “Padmaavat” because it depicts patriarchal ideas and is orthodox and conservative in nature. Yes, I want to raise my voice against the movie – not violently, by beheading the producer or the actors, but by silently protesting through my writing to make people aware about what exactly is wrong with the movie.

“Padmaavat” supposedly depicts Padmavati and her valour, but I refrain from saying that it was her courage that made her commit jauhar. No, it was fear and her suicide was no less than a murder. The whole story is nothing but all about male dominance. Padmavati was married to a king who was already married and other kings wanted to acquire her simply because of her beauty (because they considered women as property).

Beauty is a notion which in itself is vague. Later, she is forced to commit jauhar. So, are we celebrating jauhar which made thousands of women sacrifice their lives by jumping into a fire? This is what women of ‘modern’ ‘progressive’ India are expected to do – to commit suicide to save the false notion of honour, an invisible socio-cultural obligation imposed upon us?

To be very blunt, I haven’t witnessed jauhar, but yes, as a woman, I can feel those cries of pain thanks to my recent visit to Rajasthan. I came across a fort where thousands of women had sacrificed themselves, committing jauhar. Whenever the spot where they committed jauhar flashes in my mind, it sends chills through my spine.

I won’t simply accept that they committed jauhar to save their dignity or honour. Rather, I think it was to save themselves from the trauma of being brutally raped by men, to save their bodies from endless physical pain which would befall on them for endless days and nights.

Jauhar, therefore, is not an act of courage but is an act of mercy on one’s self. It is informed by pity, for being born a woman in a man’s world. Thus, I condemn jauhar and I feel pity for those women in history who died just to satisfy the male ego, the male notion of courage.

To this day, I feel pity for those Rajput women who stood against the movie to save the Karni Sena’s male ego instead of raising their voice against jauhar. They stated that they would commit jauhar if the movie was released. Nobody, asked why Bhansali was glorifying jauhar.

But being a woman and being an educated citizen, I have the right to ask, object and raise my voice.

Bhansali sir, why glorify jauhar? You could have made films on women who survived while fighting, who survived rape and still fought for justice. Why is that modern Indian cinema cannot come up with movies like “Children Of War”, “The Stoning of Soraya M” and other movies which focus on women’s issues around the globe? Sorry, but this is disappointing. Being a citizen and consumer, these cinemas are no more upto my mark; they are orthodox, patriarchal in nature and nothing else.

India is still in the making. We can hope it is able to become a strong India and not the one we are witnessing today.