Generally, I don’t waste time writing negative reviews, but the movie Padmaavat has attacked my sensibilities in more ways than one. First, this movie reinforces objectification of women. Secondly, it glorifies the abhorrent practice of Sati/Jauhar. Thirdly, this movie has duped liberals through extremely cynical marketing. Let me take up each of these issues one-by-one.
Padmavati’s original fame to claim is her beauty irrespective of whether it is part of history or not. Unlike Rani of Jhansi, she didn’t fight any battle. The movie Padmaavat shows her as an intelligent woman with a shrewd mind. For that I am willing to give thumbs up to the movie. But the only execution of her mental faculties as shown in the movie was in her rescuing act of Ratan Singh, her husband. In that also, but for the sheer luck in the companionship of the revolting wife of Khilji, she was almost in the harem of Khilji, who didn’t seem to be having any perspective on sex except rape. I would say Khilji’s wife emerged as a stronger woman in the movie. Rather the very idea of fighting a war to capture another person’s wife is reflective of only one thing: objectification of women. The movie doesn’t show Ratan Singh to be of the same mindset, but the other stories do present him as a man crafted out of the same mould, who, though being married, went all the way from Rajasthan to Sri Lanka to woo a supposedly pretty damsel. The idea of objectification of woman is inescapable in the very name Padmavati. Why should then there be any motivation to make a movie on such a filthy subject.
Padmavati is nevertheless a respected name amongst Rajputs because she committed Sati/Jauhar and didn’t let Khilji touch her body. But if you have made up your mind to die, why can’t you kill your prospective rapist? What will happen at the most? You will fail. If you fight till the end, your failure will be accompanied by death. But how does it matter when you were already commiting suicide! But it does matter for Rajputs because they consider woman nothing more than an object/property, and for them the object/property becomes godly when she doesn’t change her master unto death. (Btw, Sati is not restricted to wives. Even slaves and mistresses were forced to commit Sati, many a times in their teenage.) An independent woman, who would rather fight her rapists, does run the risk of getting raped in the process, which is against the Rajput shaan. But to a feminist it shouldn’t matter if a brave woman gets raped in the process because she fought for her freedom. The way the whole sequence of Sati/Jauhar has been potrayed with a voice over, it leaves no doubt that the movie was made with an oblique objective of glorifying Sati/Jauhar as some kind of feminism, irrespective of the disclaimer.
Well…indeed, there is a right to freedom of expression, which extends even to glorification of Sati/Jauhar, but it doesn’t extend to duping people with the externality of disturbing public tranquility. Karni Sena is a non-entity. In fact there are not one but three Karni Senas. Nobody heard of them before this movie. Even now nobody knows much about them. They of course don’t represent Rajput honour. Ironically, like Patels and Marathas, Rajputs also seek OBC reservation, and all these Karni Senas have their genesis in agitation for OBC reservation for Rajputs in Rajasthan. How can anybody who has the objective of changing the status of Kshaytriyas to Shudras have any locus standi to fight for Kshatriya honour? Is our media so incompetent that they would not even do this little a research on Karni Sena. Of course not. They are rather crooks. Undoubtedly, Karni Sena agitation was a very cynical marketing for promotion of a mediocre movie amongst the multiplex visiting liberals, albeit with an oblique objective of promoting Sati/Jauhar as alternative feminism. Mumbai and Delhi markets comprise nearly 70% of the box office collections in the first weekend. A movie which is supposedly made with a budget of Rs 180 cr will have any chance of survival only if it recovers majority of its cost in the first weekend itself, which Padmavati has incidentally done pretty handsomely thanks to the so-called Left-Liberal media and the political parties across the spectrum. BJP ministers went overboard to fuel Karni Sena agitation, and parties like AAP have played their role in tandem with the so-called Left-Liberal media to create sympathy wave for the movie. But for the controversy, I wouldn’t have given a second glance to the movie. But now I have not only watched it but am also writing a review on it. What more! This fraud is so penetrative that nobody can escape it. But of course it earns revenues for a filthy movie. Even worse, it may convert some liberals, who may start equating Sati/Jauhar with feminism. It goes without saying it will reinforce Sati/Gauhar amongst conservatives.
I don’t know how to end this review except by reproducing my tweet, which I tweeted as my first emotion after watching the movie (excuse me for the blank spaces, you may fill them up yourself).