Padmaavat may have led to a furious debate on whether the film is misogynistic and glorifies sati but Deepika Padukone says it has been an empowering experience to be a woman fronting an expensive Indian film.
The success of the film will, hopefully, open doors for more such films, the actor said.
“For me, it is the success of womanhood in so many different ways. The film is also a celebration of the fact that this is the most expensive Indian film ever been made with a female protagonist. I view that as a victory. Not just for myself but for women in films,” Deepika said.
“…I would like to believe that this will open the doors for many more such opportunities where producers are now able to put their money where their mouth is and back not just female-centric or female protagonists films but also back some of the films with this kind of budget.”
The film, which was released on January 25 following a massive controversy over its portrayal of “Rajput pride”, found itself in the centre of more trouble after release.
As feminists and others debated the jauhar scene, actor Swara Bhasker wrote an open letter to director Sanjay Leela Bhansali saying the film glorified sati and watching it made her feel reduced to nothing but a “vagina”.
Deepika doesn’t agree with the criticism.
“I respect the fact that people have varied opinions.
(But) my point of view is that a film should always be viewed in totality and in context. A scene should be viewed in context to the film, and the film has to be viewed in context to the era it was set in.
“Today we can sit and discuss it but unfortunately, these were rituals that were practiced back then. We have not endorsed it today. Which then brings me to the point – have people missed the disclaimer?”
The film faced many hurdles in its journey to the screen and Deepika was targeted by fringe groups along with Bhansali.
Despite realising that the film was a “turning point” in her career, she was ready to put it on hold and question the protests.
“Yes, it didn’t go down in the way that it usually does but I would say that it’s been the case right from the very start when there were incidents in February (during the shooting). At that very point, my gut told me that something wasn’t right.
“In many ways, the film is a turning point in my career and yet I was willing to put that on hold to address a much larger issue…,” she said.
The film’s box office success, in her view, is the biggest victory and she is ready to move on with that.
“Different people had different views at that point. And we have moved on. So I would say that the most recent events didn’t really surprise me. The film has really come out in a very glorious way. It has seen glory that no film has ever seen before. And I think that it is its biggest victory today.”
The actor said she is yet to find the moment to enjoy the success of the film but had a “group hug” with her family post the release.
“There was a fleeting moment on Monday when my whole family was in Delhi together because my father (Prakash Padukone) was getting his first lifetime achievement award.
“My film had just released and we were talking about the last couple of days. So there was a sense of pride and we gave each other a group hug. I cherish that moment.”