By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi–The pomp and visual artistry of the climax Jauhar scene in “Padmaavat” has allured some and repulsed some. But actress Deepika Padukone, overwhelmed by the praise over her splendid performance in the epic drama, says critics should not pull a scene out of context as no sane person in the present day would endorse an act of self-immolation.
That scene in which Deepika — as 13th century queen Padmavati — leads a sea of women clad in red and walks almost in a state of trance into a raging fire to commit self-immolation, has been slammed for glorifying and romanticising Jauhar or Sati.
“I am extremely open to having various views, and I can choose to agree or disagree. But in the context of this film, it’s so important not to pull a scene out of context. It’s so important to view things in its entirety and totality. It’s important to view the film and respect it for the fact that it was set in India at a time when rituals such as these were practiced,” she said.
“Most obviously, nobody… No sane, intelligent person today would endorse an act of Jauhar. You have to look at it for the time it was set in. And on a lighter note, I think certain people just missed the disclaimer at the beginning of the film,” the actress told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
“Padmaavat” makers, on instructions by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), added a disclaimer that the film — based on 16th century poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s famed poem “Padmavat” — in no manner subscribes to the practice of Sati or seeks to glorify it.
However, in an open letter, actress Swara Bhasker uninhibitedly expressed how she felt uncomfortable watching the climax. She said she felt reduced to a “vagina only”. For that, she faced vile trolls on social media.
Asked about it, Deepika said: “I might agree or disagree with what she (Swara) said, but I respect the fact that she has an opinion. And I think anything beyond that is unnecessary and uncalled for.”
“Padmaavat”, helmed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, hit the screens after a long-drawn battle with a set of Rajput organisations opposing its release over alleged “distortion of historical facts”. It opened to mixed reviews but won glory at the box office as it crossed Rs 150 crore in its opening weekend — despite not releasing in some states like Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
“It feels extremely overwhelming to be very honest. I feel like I am still reeling from everything that we have been through in the last couple of days, and there are moments of feeling surreal and of feeling blessed,” said Deepika.
Is she still hopeful that the film sees the light of the day in Rajasthan?
“For the sake of my fans, yes, I hope it does,” she said. “I wish that for the sake of my fans, this film be released in as many places as possible, because it is a story that needs to be told,” she added.
“Having said that, I am also extremely content with the love and appreciation that we are getting from a lot of places that were completely unexpected. So, whether it’s the US, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, UK, there’s a lot of other places that are giving us just so much love. I guess it balances it.”
For Deepika, the film stands for the “celebration of womanhood”.
“I think in a lot of ways, I identified with the character I was playing even though this was set in the 13th century period… It is relevant in so many ways at a time when women have found their voice and there is a beginning of a sense of equality coming to the fore.
“I find this film extremely relevant in terms of her courage, power, strength, dignity and intelligence.”
Now, before she jumps into prepping for her next film, a break of “a day or two” is all Deepika is hoping for.