Sanjay Leela Bhansali has had a long and trying last few months. His film Padmaavat has faced severe threats from fringe groups and an almost 2 month delay in release. The director is finally breaking his silence on his much awaited magnum opus. Bhansali, in an interview with Mid-Day, supported his portrayal of jauhar and talked about the process of screening the film and expressed gratitude for support he had received from the film fraternity.
Speaking to the tabloid, the director spoke extensively on the jauhar scene and the criticism he received for it, especially from actress Swara Bhasker who expressed disapproval in an open letter to Bhansali. Swara Bhasker had said that the jauhar scene glorified the practice.
Bhansali told Mid-day that jauhar was the final act of war that was fought by women. "This film is based on a story in which the character performs jauhar. The character doing so was convinced that it was an act of war. I feel it's an empowering thought. She didn't allow the enemy to win. It was a victory of dignity and honour,” he said. Padmaavat is a film that is based on the story of a Rajput queen Padmini who is believed to have chosen self-immolation rather than be taken away by the invading ruler Alauddin Khilji.
Padmaavat was released under a lot of trying conditions. Through 2017, the film, crew and the director himself were attacked by Rajput fringe groups who opposed the film. The film was originally supposed to release on December 1, but was pushed back due to pending approval by the Censor Board.
Bhansali told Mid-day that waiting for the film’s release was 'humiliating and angering.” He said, "Rumours of us being forced to make X number of cuts weren't true. Prasoon Joshi gave us a fair certificate when you consider the pressure that was on him. And now, when one sees the film, s/he questions what the hullabaloo was all about?"
When asked about the support he received from the film industry, Bhansali was quoted as saying, "This is my film, it is my battle. A few of them, like Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Samir Soni, Sudhir Mishra and Ashoke Pandit, supported me earnestly and told me to stay strong. But, there was no obvious solution to my fight. So, everyone was helpless."