Shahid Kapoor says, he hasn’t read Swara Bhasker’s viral open letter on his film “Padmaavat” but that it’s not the ‘right time’ for a piece such as hers and that it ‘feels odd that someone said something on a personal level.’ Swara’s letter, published on The Wire, the lone critical voice from the film industry against the beleaguered film. In her op-ed, the title of which explains how the actress felt “reduced to a vagina” after watching the film, Swara calls out “Padmaavat” director Sanjay Leela Bhansali for his glorification of sati and jauhar, customs that denied women their right to life and liberty. “Padmaavat” is based on the legend of Rajput queen Padmini, whose husband Ratan Singh Shahid Kapoor plays in the film.
Asked for his response, Shahid Kapoor told: “I haven’t read it yet. We have been busy with other things, but I think this isn’t the right time. It has been a tough battle for us to be able to bring forth the film to the audience. It feels great to receive support from the entire industry but it feels odd that someone said something on a personal level. That’s OK though as everyone has the right to say what they want but I haven’t read it yet.”
Swara Bhasker notes in her letter that she defended “Padmaavat” last year when it was mired in controversy and was eventually denied a certificate by the Censor Board. “Padmaavat” opened last week after finally being cleared for release. In her letter, Swara details how she booked tickets for her entire family but was left outraged by Mr Bhansali’s depiction of women and their choices. “Women have a right to live,” Swara wrote – even in the aftermath of sexual assault and even if their men are dead.
Like Shahid Kapoor, actress Divya Dutta also said that Swara is entitled to her opinion – and that she respected her for it. She told: “The film has been told like a story. Everyone has their own viewpoint. Swara kept hers, I respect that. She felt something. That visual (jauhar scene) is very strong when it comes across. But the film is set in another century, whose mindset was different. So, my view point is different. I enjoyed it (the film) very much. I respect her opinion but I take the film for what it is, absolutely.”
Filmmakers Rohit Shetty and Imtiaz Ali declined to comment on Swara’s piece because they did not want the focus to shift from “Padmaavat.” “The film has released, now, please let it run peacefully. I will request the media that after a lot of difficulties, “Padmaavat” has released. So, please let it breathe. I will say something, then someone else will say something else, that way we will get this film, our film in some or the other trouble,” Rohit Shetty told. “Any kind of obstacle that comes in a film does not feel good. There’s nothing in “Padmaavat,” which should cause any kind of protest but then everyone has their own opinion,” quoted Imtiaz Ali as saying.
On social media, reactions to Swara Bhasker’s letter have been less than measured. Several comments fixated on Swara’s use of the word ‘vagina.’ Yesterday, the actress tweeted:
Funny that people cannot get over the fact that a woman said Vagina! Funny that in a 2440 word article making fairly comprehensible arguments they only remember the word Vagina!!! ? So… Vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina vagina……………vagina vagina VAGINA!!!!! https://t.co/pVh7rskZHL
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) January 28, 2018
“Padmaavat” released amid angry protests staged by the Rajput group Karni Sena and other fringe outfits, which allege that the film distorts the history of Rani Padmini. “Padmaavat” features Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in the lead roles. The film opened in theatres on January 25 and has collected over Rs. 110 crore so far.>