Movie Review: Padmavat
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari, Jim Sarbh, Anupriya Goenka, Raza Murad
Sanjay Leela Bhansali opens his film Padmavat, one of Bollywood’s glossiest till date, with Jalaluddin Khilji (Raza Murad) witnessing his young nephew’s idiosyncrasies. Alauddin is asked to bring ostrich’s hair, instead he brings a chain-cuffed ostrich. He dances with a mad abandon and shows scant respect for rules and women, including his new wife Mehrunissa (Aditi Rao Hydari). The grand sets and better-than-average CGI captures the attention in the beginning. The slow pace of the film gives the audience ample time to adjust to the milieu.
Based on a Sufi poem of the same name written in 1540 by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has added his own flair and interpretation to ‘Padmaavat’, giving it a fairy-tale sheen. This makes all the controversy pointless, and pale in comparison to the spectacle that unfolds. Bhansali reunites with two of his favorite leads in recent times – Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, but adds Shahid Kapoor to complete this trio of commendable acting talent.
The director’s expertise in heightening opulence and grandeur is well-known, further distinguishable in 3D. Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee compliments him by beautifully capturing some jaw-dropping scenery. However, the effects in the action/ war scenes don’t meet the expectations raised by a film of this scale. Bhansali knows that his biggest asset is the myth around his lead characters and he tries his best to explore that. Padmaavat is projected as a clash of ideas about love and war, and how they hold different meanings for different people; in this case, rulers.
Sudeep Chatterjee’s camera understands the delicate nature of Bhansali’s filmmaking. He begins with a hand-held chase of Deepika Padukone and proceeds on to frame beautiful long shots. In one simple motion, he pans out his camera from a dancing Deepika performing ‘ghoomar’ to over the shoulder shot of Ratan Singh, in the process showing two totally different perspective of the same situation. Conceptualized as a clash of cultures, Padmaavat is more about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s larger than life vision than the story of Padmavati’s ordeal and why she was forced to take extreme steps to protect her honor in a world dominated by men. Follow Spotlife Asia for the latest Entertainment and Lifestyle News.
Ranveer Singh hypnotizes you, his body language, terrifying eyes and passionate walk screams of the preparation that has gone into the role. Alauddin Khilji is also the best written role in the film. The scenes between Khilji and Kafur are dark, strange and layered. Bhansali leaves doubts in your mind about their characters despite telling you about the nature of their friendship. Jim Sarbh, with his accent and peculiar mannerism, shows us the different facets of human bonding. In one of the scenes, he is caressing Khilji’s back with a fan made of peacock feathers, and demonstrates how hard it is to decipher power play in this master-slave relationship.
Deepika Padukone is radiant as the Rajput Queen whose beauty, brains and valor moves the entire plot along once Alauddin Khilji becomes obsessed with her. Her character is left behind in the ego battle of two men. She leaves the center-stage for the two hotheaded war commanders more easily than expected. She returns to salvage her pride and position in the film, but it’s probably too late by then.
Shahid Kapoor is steadfast and unflappable as Maharawal Ratan Singh – the ruler of Mewar, brimming with Rajput pride. He brings a regal aura to the character that warrants him winning the confidence and loyalty of the Mewar kingdom and more importantly, Rani Padmavati’s heart. Aditi Rao Hydari stands her ground as the naive Mehrunissa who gets a rude awakening when she discovers her husband Alauddin’s true nature.
The techniques of battle formations could have come handy here to shift focus from the predictability of the film, but Bhansali refuses to come out of his own mind palace. Like most of his films, the love triangle with one evil vertex remains in the middle of it. Probably, he wants the audience to take sides.
Sparkling, extravagant and dazzling, Padmavat is an entertaining, large canvas experience, brought to life with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s stroke of visual brilliance. It leaves you craving for something more meaningful than a mere re-telling of Jayasi’s poem.