Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari, Jim Sarbh, Anupriya Goenka, Raza Murad
Direction: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Sanjay Leela Bhansali finally releases his much awaited ‘Padmaavat’ (previously titled ‘Padmavati) after all the unfortunate controversies surrounding it. Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone hit a trio with Bhansali Productions, after ‘Ram Leela’ and ‘Bajirao Mastani’, while both the stars share the screen for the first time with Shahid Kapoor in this period drama. Let’s find out what works for the film and what doesn’t:
Story: Based on the poem ‘Padmaavat’, written by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi. The film celebrates the courageous legend of Rani Padmavati. The premise of the love saga commences with the introduction of Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), a free-spirited princess who loves to hunt in the jungles of Singhal. And on one such hunt, she comes across Rawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor), the Rajput ruler of Mewar, who is on an expedition for precious stones (motis) to fulfill his wife’s command. Given the exceptional combination of beauty and brains that Padmavati is, the Rajput kind falls for her beauty and decides to marry, and return to Chittor with his new bride. While the royal love story is brewing, the power-hungry Turkish-Afghan ruler, Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) learns about the beauty of Padmavati through a priest Raghav Chetan, who advices him to have the Rajputs by his side after having conquered Delhi. Being obsessed with possession, he decides to lay a siege on the Chitttor Fort in Rajasthan. A series of events build up to the large-scale jauhar, self-immolation of the women to protect their dignity, as their men sacrifice their lives on the battle field.
Ranveer Singh takes the cake in the acting department with his unmatched performance as the evil Alauddin Khilji, who is being touted as one of the best villainous portrayals onscreen ever. This kohl-eyed, self loving and lustful monarch is someone you’ll love to hate. He’s gotten into the skin of his character so well that you can replace Ranveer’s face on the drawings we see of Khilji today.
Deepika Padukone is fierce and breathtakingly gorgeous at the same time. Every frame does justice to her beauty and she delivers as an actress too. Her eyes do the talking as she comparatively has lesser dialogues. But she’s done full justice to the character.
Shahid Kapoor, who plays King Rawal Ratan Singh of Mevar, Chittorgarh, plays his role effortlessly. However, this role isn’t the best we’ve seen of him onscreen. The controlled expressions somehow seem out of the place.
Anupriya Goenka who plays Shahid’s character’s first wife does a decent job but there’s nothing promising that you’d notice. She also seems to have a lot of scenes which could have been trimmed down. Other actors like Aditi Rao Hydari as Mehrunisa, Jim Sarbh as Malik Kafur and Raza Murad as Jalaluddin Khilji have done a phenomenal job to support the main cast as well.
Music and Dialogues: ‘Ghoomar’ is already a rage and witnessing it on the big screen with a touch of ‘sanskar’ on Deepika’s midriff will lighten you up. However, the rest of the songs don’t do much to help the narrative and fail to entertain like the songs from previous Bhansali films. There are powerful dialogues which imbibe the essence of what exactly the characters are trying to emote.
Direction: The treatment of this film what you expect from a typical Bhansali film, it’s all about the scale and the magnanimous opus. Padmaavat is spectacular: no one can do spectacle like Bhansali. The Bhansali fan in you won’t be disappointed. The first half is bit slow as the premise sets up and each character is introduced along with the vengeance that builds to have the beautiful Queen by Khilji’s side. It’s the second half that holds grip with final war at Chittor and with the battle that Rani Padmavati and her Shatranis fight. However, the three hours narrative looping rhetoric around what constitutes Rajput valour can and does become tiresome. And that compulsion to make ‘sati’ so good-looking, when the singeing of flesh can be so gruesome, is troubling. There’s a sequence when a pregnant woman and an unwilling girl child walk towards the burning pyre of sacrifice, that is a disturbing sight! Another issue is Bhansali’s black-and-white delineation of the good Hindu and the bad Muslim which is so stark that that we are left with no illusion about which part of the political firmament he wants to be on the right side of. Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee perfectly captures the dark world of the Khilji dynasty with all shades of grey and equally gives the kesariya atmosphere of Mewar justice. However, the execution of such a strong story could have been better.
Cinespeaks Verdict: ‘Padmaavat’ may cross the thin line of communalism and glorification of an era old practice, but beyond that the film offers grandeur that needs to be celebrated at a theatre near you. Jaw dropping performances by Ranveer and Deepika, and the treatment of the film will make for the value of your money. Cinespeaks gives the film 3 stars.