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Padmavat or Padmavati: Not An Open Letter

Padmavat: Why this Kolaveri Di?

You know the song that everyone would have sung after watching [finally] the movie Padamvat [Padmavati]? Yeah, the uproar was unavoidable but quite unnecessary to a greater extent. I am not saying that you should allow filmmakers to play with your sensibility in name of creativity. I, however, believe that there's a lot that goes into defining sensitivity from one cause to another farce.

Padmavati, another magnum opus of acclaimed director Sanjay Leela Bhansali received lots of flak when a newspaper article claimed that the shooting of the dream sequence between the Ranvir Singh [playing Khilji] and Deepika Padukone as Padmavati is complete. Call it a bad publicity or controversy inciting tactic, it fell flat and gave rise to many political and territorial unrest.

From the song sequence to the exposed midriff to movie's title, there were quite some edits that were incorporated in the film. I am not sure if it is worth to debate what were they and why so unless a bona fide press release and not that "Flowing Ganga, let's a dip kind of open letters". 

Even if they are, to each their own, name it a freedom of expression or the fact that the Ganges is open to all. A healthy society flourishes only when one can express their views without being mocked, denied or repressed by the one with a conflicting opinion.

Watching Padmavat: A Required Prologue

Not discrediting his/their efforts, I have given up on the lavish period dramas by Indian Directors like Ashutosh Gowarikar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali [SLB]. Blame it on Jodha Akbar or Mohanjodaro by the former or the somewhat disappointing "Bajirao Mastani" by the latter. 

Even the controversies did not entice me enough to book my tickets or check in a preview. It was just an unfunctional lift and a lack of an identifiable activity on a lazy Saturday noon that made us book the 3D show in a multiplex nearby and plonk in the not so clean looking seats at Cinepolis to watch this movie. 

Needless to say, I went to watch the movie open minded [as you should watch any film] without being a Rajasthani, not a period movie aficionado, a walking talking checklist of the controversies surrounding it. I even braved my unexpected fall at the overly slippery stairs before the beginning of the movie and even avoided all the bad snacks that Cinepolis, Fun Republic Andheri West serves that could possibly leave any bad taste not necessarily related to the film.

Did the film leave me in bad taste? well, read more to know.



My Humble Views Post Watching Padmavat

These are few of my "collective" observations, views that I felt after watching Padmavat the film-


1) What's in the name? Then what's in changing the name?: With due respect, I did not like the name change and feel it was unnecessary. Aargh, the name! Padmavati was a better name than Padmavat and I see no reason for the change? Why can't the film be named on the lead female character? Chauvisim! All those references and disclaimer to avoid controversy by accrediting it to Jayasi' Book could be a safe bet but not in the event of violent oppose. 


2) What is the Crime? All the protestors should be actually paying money to SLB for glorifying the story where a king cannot save his kingdom, innocent citizens in name of a false pretense of a pride that need not be brought where it was not required? A king's Kshatriya dharma is to protect and not offer his head to ethicless intruders. While I do not know the Raja in person, so are you sire, let's not unnecessary get into the debate. Oh yes, several Hindu/Indian Raja refused to help each other against Moghuls or even the East India Company. 

3) The Ghoomer Song Controversy: If you were talking about that inch of skin being visible while doing the ghoomer song or not sticking 100% to the dance form but mixing other forms of same state dance, then I am not sure about the former as it did not look derogatory or titillating but could be still taken as genuine request for edit. Maybe the fusion of dance was an artistic edit and could be taken as a tool for promoting all the other dance forms of Rajasthan including Kalbelia. See the positive.

The third most evasive argument that it was not befitting the queen to dance in public. Well, from what I saw in the film has The Rani performed a Gauri Pooja for her husband and post that danced in her recreational areas with other women to celebrate the occasion.

And from whatever history I have read- Call it Hindi, Moghul, Congress, BJP or blah blah, the mentions of Rani having such activities like dancing or singing with other women at her confinements are very much apparent. In the men folklore, only the king was visible in the song. Kyunki he is the king and king can go anywhere..blah!

Honestly speaking, when I first saw the song, I did not like it and immediately messaged back to the PR saying that it is nice but could have been better. However, in the 2nd-3rd watch, the song grew on me apart from the fact that they did not copy paste the original in new beats but penned a new one for numerous weddings and other cultural fests to feast on. 


4) A Little More Credit for Aditi Rao Hyadri: Aditi Rao Hydari looked equally beautiful as Deepika. I am sure if she was cast as the Padmini, she would not have looked less beautiful and would have done justice to the porcelain beauty. Seeing her a name as supporting cast [even if I dunno much about Mehru] is well justifying to Bollywood's worshipping only the popular names.Maybe next time onwards, give her meatier role and presence. She was enchanting and yet so artful

5) Strong Women are Work of Fiction: Why do people fictionalize all the wonderful women in history? Earlier it was Jodha Bai, now Padmavati? 

6) Limited Creative Liberty: When it comes to film-making, movie makers take all possible/commercial creative/artistic liberty. So, when you have you shown Rani Padmini as a Sinhalese and not Singhal warrior, what did you do with all her Warrior skills post her Doli to Mewar? Not meaning to bring down their plight, but being a Sinhalese warrior, why couldn't SLB's Padmavati killed Khilji and taken him to Jauhar [producing another Nayab thing in his life]?

I guess it is high time that filmmakers should ideally script their own story or stop taking unnecessary creative liberty in the name of filmmaking. In your bid to stand on two boats, you will be bound to hurt sensibilities and fall. Though I feel, post-Padmavati incident, Filmmakers may get little more careful as to whether political or regional, protestors and troublemakers will not take it easy either. 

7) Why Injustice is Always An Indian Fiction: Why is the story accredited complete fiction or a bardic imagination when all the states, forts still exist including the signs of mass immolation at Chittorgarh Fort? Just cause you do not have any other reference than Jayasi? Going by that logic a lot of things in Ancient India, Pre/Post independent India could be a fiction. 

It is like watching PK question the overall wrongdoing in name of religion. You know what I mean?

8) Glorification of Jauhar: Post the movie I heard many including some names that I like talking about Bhansali glorifying Jauhar in this film. 

I understand that after doing a film like "Anarkali of Arrah" if one of my favorite actress Swara Bhaskar in her open letter had accused Mr. SLB of glorifying the Jauhar menancing it meager to a vaginal violation issue that forced women to perform such dreadful act. In my humble opinion, it could not be just the thought of a rape or sleeping with the enemy that would have made them take such a brazing step. It may be the thought of being badly humiliated and violated by not just the winning king but their cruel act of vandalizing the "won" women that may have forced the delicate ladies to take such step. and in no way, I think that the movie glorified it. It quite showed the pain and agony in every bit of the process. Why go in history, even today you would find substantial women claiming to be dead rather than bending or succumbing to a wrongdoing]. 

Rape is not just a vaginal penetration always. It is and can be more painful and cruel than that, leaving an impact not just on the body but minds too. A certain moronic woman asked me, even people with higher self-entitlement may ask how do you know the pain of rape, are you a rape victim? I know, as one big mouth woman asked me once on a public forum where some other hypocrites chose to abide her. Well, for each their own idiosyncrasies and myopia. However, I strongly feel that you need not have to be a victim to understand someone else' pain or compassion. That way one not just show their pettiness but unnecessarily enforce to bring miseries into the world when empathy could be the armor. 

Coming back to the subject, I am a staunch protestor of Sati Pratha and would never have wished that any women had to undergo such an act. I so much hope that if all these protests or the demands of seeking someone's nose were for demolishing a bigger evil in the society. As I grew up, I could feel [and not justify] as to why certain women would have thought of embracing death than living a helpless life. I have seen some of them, chained to numerous miseries, violations and what not. No, not all women can be expected to show immediate self-strength without an abled intervention, let's stop living in that fool's paradise.
While I do not justify Jauhar, nor glorify, I could not deny the helplessness of certain courageous women who willingly or unwillingly succumbed to this while fighting the age-old sexual oppression. 

9) Where is the Real Pride?: It is like- Let's worship Ma Durga but continue to insult women. For the biggest cause and concerns in our developing country is not poverty, women safety, child education but seeking to cut a woman's nose as if the woman is not a living being, have no emotions and will never know what you said or the fact that it shows how cheap one can get.  Why are those ministers or MLAs still in power and not stripped off their positions who demanded [rather say perpetrated or instilled hatred in public] to bring an actress's head/nose just cause she played a heroic historical character much against your male chauvinism?

10) Padmavati for Gen Y: Notwithstanding the revenues that the film will ring at the box office, it will also help in spreading the awareness about the Raja, the Rani and the whole saga in the new youth who is so disillusioned by the subject History. I bet many children will now know about the legendary saga and will take a deeper interest in the Indian/World History, including the Pokemon and the Khal Drogo generation. It is a symbiotic society, as long as the filmmaker can sensitively handle a subject and create more mass awareness and conscience awakening, it is applaudable. People are making money with films like Grand Masti and other Crass of its mile but am sure that is not the kind of education our generation actually need. Though highly prevalent and cheaper to execute without much effort. 




Numerounity Overall Thoughts
I do not know Malik Muhamed Jayasi or nor do have any intention to challenge his authenticity or question his literature. I have not read it. Like my blog or the poems that I write - often based on real incidences , cause or sometimes a marginal fiction without being alien to reality, well even his work could be anything. 

The objective is not to question someone's work as fiction or bardic allowance or cinematic alleviance but the idea is to take things in the right spirit, filter the waste and take the good learnings.  I do not mean to use thesaurus words either. The movie is up to you to dissect into good or bad, as it is your right to like or not like anything. However, vandalism or creating public disharmony in the name of anything is not right.

I saw many Policemen, seating at multiplexes in a bid to prevent any protest or violence. I found that unnecessary. We as a public are watching a film to entertain us. Whether we like to be entertained or no, is our choice but making the armed forces delineate from bigger objectives/responsibility towards the nation and standing up for an unjustified cause is the violation of democracy and even a bigger failure of local government including the leaders who perpetrated the hatred.

Instead of asking Deepika Padukone's head, one should read about the multiple heads err hat approach of Edward De Bono, it will help them to bring good governance and increased popularity. Remember unlike our history, everything will be chronicled these days, making it to the pages of future history. So be right than mere righteous. 

I am sorry if I hurt anyone's sentiment, am too inconsequential to do that. I would be glad if I positively motivated you. Do let me know in the comments.

Numerounity

The autor is half Human, half machine. Go Figure or just revel in what I write

6 comments:

  1. Hey there, lovely letter :) More or less similar to what I thought! We live in an age where everyone is getting hyper over small things. Gone are the days when movies were made for entertainment and people could go watch it and then spread the word of mouth based simply on whether they like it or not...in today's environment even Mughal E Azam and Sholay could not be made because surely somebody somewhere will get 'offended' by something in these classics *sigh* Rest all debate whether Padmavati was real or fictional, or whether jauhar is being glorified or not..this we can do in our homes rather than walking on streets and baying for the filmmaker's/actors' heads!

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  2. I am in complete agreement with the thoughts and feelings expressed by you Ekta Ji. I empathize with you in entirety in this context though I have yet to watch the movie. I also endorse the views expressed by Richa Ji in her comment.

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  3. thoughtful interesting post

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  4. Ok, I agree on most parts with you. Especially that attention seeking worthless letter by Swara. The movie for me was not great or of epic proportions and that is what I expect from Bhansali because he is quite weak as a director IMHO, but I still liked it and by no means, I agree did it glorified Jauhar. Like you have already written, it wasn't just about being raped. Moreover, back in that time, we did not have social media and hastags, things were real.

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  5. You nailed the issues so clearly. Instead of reactions if ppl used their civil minds it would lead to better things.

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  6. Lovely letter! Agree with most of the points. Our problem is that people consider any publicity as good publicity - both sides of the spectrum think alike! With a vast history, going back thousands of years, we can't come up with one decent, historic movie is proof why we have a long way to go before we win any kind of Oscar.

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