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Why I Still Liked ‘Padmaavat’ Despite Reading Swara Bhasker’s Open Letter

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I had plans for Republic Day. I was going to see “Padmavati” in the morning, eat some Dominos pizza for lunch and then watch “Padman”. But then “Padman” said ladies first to “Padmavati” (it became “Padmaavat”), and Karni Sena burnt a school bus so my mom and I chose to stay at home and watch “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham”, instead (I know Karan Johar is a nepotistic, NRI pandering poopy head, but I have the soul of a Buzzfeed writer and I would die for him anyway).

By January 31, the Karni Sena headlines had decreased along with my mother’s entirely rational fear of being set on fire by the Karni Sena during the film’s interval. So she bought the tickets. Little did she know, that between the 26th and the 31st, a lot had changed for me. I had started a new diet and had also read Swara Bhasker’s open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Initially I was dying to see “Padmaavat” but now that I knew that the women have unnecessarily died in the film, I now wanted the movie to burn in hell.

But I didn’t pay for those gold class tickets and my mom promised me to buy me a hot dog – also I am a corrupt person with weak morals who is easily bought, so I went to see the goddamn movie. I thought to myself, “I’ll just concentrate on the hot dog when the women start killing themselves. *shrugs*”

Now I’m not a movie critic… and I can prove this statement by making another statement – I kind of liked “Tiger Zinda Hai”(don’t judge me I was making a point), and I may be a total drama queen but I am not an actor like Swara is.

Here’s my deal with the film, and Swara Bhaskar though – I honestly cannot wrap my head around the amount of hate she has received for giving her opinion.

That being said, I was not nearly as offended/affected by the movie as she was… I mean don’t get me wrong, it is completely harrowing to watch pregnant women and children participate in mass suicide (that part really ruined the hot dog for me) but I think that for these Rajput women, their Aan , Baan, Shaan were just as important to them as it was to the Rajput men. I do not think they killed themselves just to escape rape. I believe that their death had a more severe motive – defeating the enemy.

I am a Christian and I believe in eternal life, but those were devout Hindu women, and they probably believed in reincarnation. Perhaps, death must’ve been a minor inconvenience to those badass ladies. See, by now you’re probably put off by my uneducated theological commentary. However, Swara Bhaskar said that “Padmaavat” made her feel that she was reduced to a vagina, and I only slightly agree with her.

But what I took away about this particular avatar of Rani Padmavati from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie, was an intelligent woman – intelligent to the point that she is cunning, a beautiful woman – beautiful to the point that she is ethereal, and a ruthless woman – ruthless to the point that she is suicidal.

This woman had an ego as big if not bigger, than her husband’s. She defeated Khilji not once but twice, first, when she rescued her husband and second, when she preferred burning rather than surrendering to that lawless man. This woman’s mere mention drove one king mad and burned another’s entire kingdom to the ground. The woman however remains a legend, who, even in the 21st century, incited riots.

Again, while I can see Swara’s point of view, I do not completely agree with it. I’m not going to lie Swara, but by the end of the movie, I too felt like a vagina – an iron vagina, that is indestructible and immortal.

Swara has a point though. If I had the power of rewriting history or even creating my own myth and legends (or even just a screenplay), then I’d write an alternative in which Padmavati did not die. Rather, I’d write that she surrendered to Khilji, and then dismantled his entire kingdom from the inside along with Khilji’s first wife. But I guess that’s what fan-fiction is for.

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