Award winning actor Swara Bhaskar’s extremely well crafted hard hitting feminist critique of Padmavati (in an open letter to Bhansali) has gone viral. It is heartening that an industry insider said what needed to be said, and if anybody really have a 56″ chest that is not filled with hollow pride but bravery and integrity, that is Swara Bhaskar, who didn’t care about risking her future film opportunities with Bhansali while penning down this much needed Feminist Film Review.
On Twitter it was a trending topic, and I was scrolling through the related tweets, expecting to come across some weird MRA (men rights activist) or some right wing conservative seeped in male privilege and sexism to call her anti-national feminazi etc. And I wasn’t disappointed. I came across two of them instantly.
First one was, as expected, an insignificant scumbag with two digit follower count and nobody would probably pay attention to his rant. But the other was Arnab Ray (“Great” Bong), making a snide sarcastic remark against Swara. On that tweet his followers are calling Swara all kinds of name, including how money hungry she is etc. You know the usual drill. Often these people forget that when they Tweet one form of disrespect, they facilitate the trolls to hurl furthermore severe abuses on the target, and they watch the fun quietly.
This Arnab Ray started blogging career with film reviews, wrote a few books as all early bloggers except me did in the last 12 years, also has a wikipedia page. His Twitter timeline usually have cricket talk or other drivel, nothing intense or poignant about country’s social issues. But he felt it important to give his opinion upon how Swara, a woman, should or could feel about a movie.
Right now on his Twitter timeline many blue tick badge wearing (verified profiles with some credibility) feminists including Priti Sharma Menon of AAP is calling out his misogyny, some trying to reason with him that he missed the point about Swara’s open letter etc. But he is fiercely defending his bullshit.
One of his defense that caught my eyes is that, “Padmavati merely chose death on her own terms.” This is the most convenient excuse for those who want caste, class and gender based oppression to perpetuate just the way it is, the argument of choice or competencies. They think the choice women make to choose death for sake of a ill-conceived sense of honour in the vagina is really a free choice unaffected by social conditioning. It’s just so easy for upper caste men to absolve themselves of the responsibility they have to critique their own privileges and take affirmative actions.
Priti Sharma called out his regressive mindset and he quickly dismissed her view by labeling her with Aam Aadmi Party. It is typical of mansplainers to dismiss women’s views not on merits of argument but by body shaming or slut shaming them or some such thing. In Ms Sharma’s case Arnab Ray is shaming her for her profession. Despicable and shameful coming from so called “author and widely read blogger”.
My question, why we even expect or try? Those who decide to not get it, will not get it. Ever. Understanding what Swara said is not difficult. Anybody with a bit of logic and reason in their head would get it, but if they are already decided against it, they will find 10,000 things to justify their male privilege and inherent sexism. Remember what Periyar said,
“Have cats ever freed rats? Have foxes ever liberated goats and chickens? We can be confident that women will never be emancipated by men”