By Laxmi Parmeswar, MA MS LPC
Any Bollywood movie in the current Indian diaspora cannot ask for a more perfect set-up than what preceded the delayed release of SLB’s Padmavath. Riots, buzz, outrage, anticipation, etc.
It is a misguided fictional tale of actual historical characters weaved together in a story that sensationalizes that era without artistic sensitivity or accuracy.
Every character is portrayed through a uni-dimensional lens of “all good” or “all bad” and propels the viewer to internalize subliminal messages that reinforce pre-existing perspectives/biases developed through decades of generational conditioning.
SLB appears to have successfully alienated factions of several religious and socio-cultural groups, namely Hindus, Muslims, Women, Gays and interested & discriminating movie-goers!
Unfortunately, it is just another ‘period’ movie that lacks substance, but rests on excellent cinematography, visuals, and solid performances by Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and of course Ranveer Singh.
The movie glamorizes wars, human depravity, the practice of Sati, powerlessness & suicide, cultural stereotypes (both Rajput and Mogul), objectifying women and portraying sexual violence just to feed our insatiable appetite for shock, hyperbole, hype and irresponsible consumerism.
While SLB is laughing all the way to the bank, I wonder about the movie’s impact on our collective Indian psyche. Are we equipping ourselves to learn from history’s troubling lessons and create a kinder and more gentle universe where we can truly accept each other with our differing perspectives and socio-cultural realities?
Only time will tell...