PADMAAVAT – the most controversial movie in recent times has finally hit the marquee. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali helmed epic which is on everybody’s mind, lips, newspapers and television sets has involved the whole nation making it the most eagerly awaited and probably will end up as the most scrutinized movie till date.
Without going into historical facts as the movie disclaimer says PADMAAVAT is based on the epic poem Padmavat (1540) by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, let’s get into the art and cinematic aspects of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor.
After BAJIRAO MASTANI, Bhansali draws different waters with the same bucket in PADMAAVAT. While BAJIRAO MASTANI was a magnificently mounted love story of Maratha Peshwa Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) and his second wife Mastani (Deepika Padukone), PADMAAVAT is more ambitious and melodramatic in its take on love, sacrifice, obsession, valour and pride. PADMAAVAT is intoxicatingly beautiful, lavishly mounted magnum opus with extraordinary performance that rekindles your love for epic extravaganzas, fantasy and mythology.
SS Rajamouli’s BAAHUBALI series has redefined this particular genre in India and any epic from now cannot escape the comparison somewhere during its duration, especially if it has war scenes. PADMAAVAT is a trade mark Bhansali extravaganza, very few filmmakers have this knack of establishing their idiom in filmmaking and storytelling and this movie is no different from his known flamboyance and confidence.
PADMAAVAT opens with the lustrous introduction of Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) nephew of Jalaluddin Khilji (Raza Murad). Alauddin brings a chain-cuffed ostrich into the ‘darbar’ of his uncle, actually he was asked to just bring a feather. Alaudin is tyrant, a cynical ruler who you will love to hate and that’s the biggest USP of PADMAAVAT. Alaudin gets married to Mehrunissa (Aditi Rao Hydari), the greedy womanizer Alaudin who has an interesting twist in his relationship with his slave-cum-companion Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh) comes to know about the divine beauty of Rani Padmavati (Deepika Padukone). An abandon priest from Chittor - Raghav Chetan infuses the urge in Alaudin to marry Rani Padmavati. Rani Padmavati the princess of Singhal, is married to Rawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) The King of Chittor who is brimming with Rajput pride throughout.
The tyrant Alauddin Khilji becomes obsessed with Rani Padmavati and goes to every possible length to satisfy his urge. What follows is a visually mesmerizing and emotionally capturing tale of love, betrayal, honesty and sacrifice blended with the Rajputana pride and valour penned by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Prakash Kapadia.
Bhansali’s narration is slow paced and intoxicating, the scenario gains momentum as the drama unfolds and engulfs the audience. The characterizations are pitch - perfect.
For Ranveer Singh, Alauddin Khilji is the character that the audience will love to hate for long. Right from the word go, Ranveer is electrifying and at times the ugly looking maniac is above everything in this beautiful looking spectacle, the dance with mad abandon, the wicked cruelty in his eyes, the body language, the mannerisms etc are completely opposite of what he did previously with Bhansali in BAJIRAO MASTANI and GOLIYON KI RASLEELA RAM – LEELA and this time the actor triumphs with more astonishing results. Sheer acting powers.
Shahid Kapoor is nuanced, controlled and firm in the brilliant portrayal of the King who values principles, can die for pride and fight for honour till the last breath. Shahid mouths all the dialogues of Rajput pride with amazing subtlety and doesn’t go overboard or loud to steal a point or forcefully please the crowd. Brilliant.
Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati is drop dead gorgeous. She carries herself in those wardrobes and ornaments like a divine diva. Deepika has never looked so beautiful before and here the actress gives a performance that will earn her respect. She is outstanding and the ‘ghoomar’ dance is a treat to the eye, exceptionally done.
Jim Sarbh adds the interesting and quirky twist in the master slave relationship. Jim Sarbh is incredible in his moments with Ranveer Singh, his jealousy over his master Alauddin’s unending fetish over Padmavati is not spoken but gets conveyed through his expressions. His moments with Ranveer Singh give an interesting, quirky twist to the proceedings. Veteran Raza Murad is fine. Aditi Rao Hydari looks gorgeous and gives a riveting performence.
Production values are of the highest order. Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography is drop dead gorgeous in each and every frame. The movie is a mesmerizing visual pleasure. The 3D technology enhances the splendour. This review is written after watching in Imax 3D and it must be said that the technology is used to perfection to enrich the viewing experience.
Apart from Rajput honour, PADMAAVAT if looked closely is also a battle between two ideologies of war. One fought with principles (Rajput) and the other fought with only a single aim - to capture, win crushing all the values and principles that come its way (Khilji). However in all the glitter of grandiosity, some where this clash of principles fails to get the right amount of light to add another layer to the film.
Some audiences belonging to today’s generation may find the words ‘valour’ honour’ and the ‘jauhar’ exercise not easy to digest but sensible audience will relate to the practice during those times which was done at extreme situations and carries strong emotions. The movie also clarifies with a disclaimer that it doesn't glorify the practice of ‘sati’ in any way.
Last but not the least, without getting into the history of PADMAAVAT (which in any case is denied by historians and it’s primarily a pious belief) does the movie hurts/attacks Rajput valour? No, in fact it holds the pride to its chest with honour as a cinema.
PADMAAVAT is an intoxicatingly beautiful & lavishly mounted magnum opus, this extraordinary courage of love, valour, sacrifice and honour is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s most ambitious film till date powered by outstanding performance by Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor.