The film, which depicts the legend of Rani Padmini who supposedly committed jauhar to escape the invading emperor Alauddin Khilji, finally released on January 25, but was not allowed to release by Hindutva forces in various parts of the country, despite the Supreme Court ordering the contrary. Swara promised to fight trolls and television commentators for the filmmaker's freedom to express; but she also promised to ask him questions about the art he makes for public consumption. Whether it is slamming journos for shaming Zaira Wasim, or her appeal to women to defend themselves against predators, she has never held back. A sati-jauhar apologist or supporter attempts to annihilate the woman altogether if the genitals have been violated or if her genitals are no longer in the control of a "rightful" male owner.
In his review for NDTV, Raja Sen wrote, "the lesser said about the slow-motion glorification of self-immolation the better", while Anna Vetticad, writing for Firstpost, said, "Jauhar was a horrendous practice underlining the belief that a woman's life is worth nothing if her vagina, the sole property of her husband or future husband, is invaded by another man".
The Padmaavat film not only sparked controversy outside of Bollywood but inside too. The actress believes the film has brought up the question whether women widowed, raped, pregnant, young, old, pre-pubescent have the right to live. I saw one woman posted on Swara's timeline that her letter looks down upon women.
She stressed: "Women have the right to live, despite being raped sir".
The actor said a woman's honour and purity do not reside in the vagina and it would be a welcome step "if the vaginas are respected; but in the unfortunate case that they are not, a woman can continue to live". I do not want to give much importance to somebody who does not understand why a film, about a woman being frustrated with daily chores and deciding to sit and have juice is painfully relevant and true.
There is life outside the vagina, and so there can be life after rape. She wrote about so many things in her letter.
It was quite shocking to see Swara Bhasker pen down an open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, with utter disappointment after watching Padmaavat yesterday. But the film is set in another century, whose mindset was different.