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‘Incredibly stupid, I hear’: Swara Bhaskar on her Padmaavat letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Claiming that she didn’t know her voice mattered that much, Swara Bhaskar opens up about her open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali where she said Padmaavat ‘reduced her to a vagina’.

bollywood Updated: Feb 18, 2018 13:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Swara Bhaskar,Padmaavat,Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Swara Bhaskar was hailed as a brave feminist by some while others slammed her when she wrote an open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali claiming his Padmaavat left her feeling “reduced to a vagina.(IANS)

Bollywood actor Swara Bhaskar, who fought a brave battle both online and offline after her open letter to Sanjay Leela Bhansali criticising Padmaavat was slammed for the use of the word ‘vagina’, has now said that she was told her letter was stupid in an interview to MidDay.

In her open letter to Bhansali, Swara had criticised the glorification of jauhar in the Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh-Shahid Kapoor-starrer and wrote that at the end of the movie, she felt “reduced to a vagina”. Swara received a lot of backlash, both from within Bollywood film industry and outside, mostly for using the word vagina in her letter.

When told that her letter was quite bold, Swara told the tabloid, “And an incredibly stupid one too, I hear.”

She further said, “I didn’t even know that I was so famous, or my voice mattered this much. Although in a twisted, warped way, it did remind me of the reach I had. However, the Bollywood I know deserves more credit than we give it, because the hatred I received for writing that letter came from social media users, not the industry. Bollywood braves too much criticism. It has accepted me the way I am, and given me the space to thrive. Fundamentally, I have fierce opinions. And if I have them, I must be prepared to deal with trolls. In Bollywood, however, everyone is only trying hard to hold their ground, despite all odds. So, this is not the industry that must be blamed.”

She also told the tabloid that she is often cautious of what she says in the public space. “I have to be careful about the things I say because it will be up for scrutiny. Words are twisted out of context to imply something else. This is also probably the reason behind artistes’ hesitation to back issues that they feel strongly about,” she said.

An Indian Express report quoted her as saying, “Now I know I have more trolls than fans. But I am not a flippant person, and I stand by everything I say. Trolling is a different kind of bullying and I don’t want to give in. But yes, I am now more aware of the kind of hatred out there. I did not speak anything that’s disrespectful or vicious and so I am not really bothered.”

When asked if she was upset she received all the critical acclaim for her performance in Anarkali of Aarah but not as many awards, Swara told Mid Day, “Awards are important for someone like me, who has entered Bollywood without any backing from a bigwig. So, an award is a validation that I, a newbie, am getting my due when I perform well. But, they aren’t deal breakers for me. Apart from the opinion of the jury, several factors go into determining the winner.”

Swara Bhaskar and Pankaj Tripathi during a stage performance in Anaarkali of Aarah.

“See, I don’t think [good] box office figures are signs of appreciation. Great content is celebrated at the BO, but often, so are poor films. Associating economics with a movie is confusing. Anarkali was a passion project. We struggled to release it. I went to every big studio to get the backing. I don’t blame them for not producing it because, sometimes, businessmen can’t see content objectively. For me, the film was a hit. It released in a pithy 300 screens at first, and still won hearts. I got messages on social media. Passersby at airports stopped to talk to me about it. So, awards or not, my validation came from the audiences’ reception. I hope it marked the beginning of a trend where content-heavy films that don’t feature stars are also backed by [big] producers,” she added.

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First Published: Feb 18, 2018 12:57 IST