Mumbai: Sanjay Leela Bhansali-directed "Padmaavat" has started a debate on whether the film glorifies the banned archaic practice of 'jauhar' (self-immolation) and actor Shahid Kapoor says people need to watch the period drama keeping in mind the era in which it was set.
Since its release last week, the magnum opus has evoked criticism from a section of the audience, which questioned Bhansali for hyper-dramatising the patriarchal 'jauhar' sequence.
The debate caught steam after actor Swara Bhasker's open letter to the director got viral on social media, saying she felt reduced to a vagina after watching "Padmaavat", while calling out Bhansali for apparent reverential projection of the practice.
When mentioned the act was presented in a way, which appeared "celebratory" to many of the audience members, Shahid said in an interview that one needs to see the film in the context of 13th century - when it was exercised.
Shahid, who played Rajput king Maha Rawal Ratan Singh pointed out, "What happened right before the 'jauhar' scene? The king died. How can it be a celebration when the king has died?
"Every practice happens for various reasons. Within this film, Padmavati believed she would want to go into the fire as opposed to handing herself over to a man who is so evil, that he is ready to kill the entire kingdom to achieve one woman. Now you decide whether that's a good thing or a bad."
"Padmaavat" is based on the 16th century epic penned by Malik Muhammad Jayasi. The film had been mired in controversy with several outfits alleging that the filmmaker has "distorted history" and hurt sentiments.
Battling protests and five modifications suggested by the CBFC - including the title change from "Padmavati" - the film finally released on January 25.
When asked if actors would be discouraged to sign up for a historical film in future, Shahid said the artistes would be more careful in choosing projects after the "Padmaavat" fracas.
"This was the most extreme version of controversy that one could've witnessed. 'Padmaavat' became a benchmark that even this could happen. We will all worry about what we are doing (referring to content of the film) and how people will react."
Calling the unending protests as troublesome, the "Udta Punjab" actor rued that the film was judged by people even before it released.
"It will take all of us some time to come out of it. I think more than me or anyone else, it is Bhansali sir who had to deal with it. It was his labour of love.
"But he is now happy that the film has seen the light of the day and feels good that the intent with which it was made has been seen and people have loved it," he added.
The film may have got a mixed response from the audience, but it is doing exceedingly well at the box office, already having raked in Rs 114 crore in five days.