Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Producer(s) : Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Viacom18 Motion Pictures.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, oops, now Padmaavat, is based on a possibly allegorical poem of the same name which was written by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi back in 1540. This piece of literature, which could purely be a work of fiction, found its way into the Rajput history as a somewhat real account of the obsession that the barbaric Sultan of Delhi, Alauddin Khilji (played by Ranveer Singh in this film) had with Rani Padmavati (played by Deepika Padukone), and his attempt to capture her. This piece of history (or simply a legend, we don’t really know here) is something that the Rajput community is probably very well versed with. We suggest that you rather not look up the details of the poem off the net because it will totally ruin your joy of watching this masterpiece.
Since this film has been accused of distorting history by certain people (Ahem, Karni Sena, Ahem) who claim that the film has a dream sequence between Khilji and Padmavati, who never really met as per the history books, let’s set the record straight. There’s NO such scene and the two are never seen together in a single frame for even as much as a second.
Now, let’s talk performances and about the whole package.
The opening act of the film is a scene between Ranveer’s Alauddin and veteran actor Raza Murad’s Jalaluddin, who is the former’s uncle. It is this very act and a sequence after that which gives you a complete picture of what Khilji really is: a calculative, conniving monster who wants to conquer and capture every exquisite thing known to man. Had Khilji been alive today, he’d probably want to take this very film and make it a part of his own collection and NEVER show it to the world, because this film too is as exotic and beautiful as it can get. Overall, a bruised, greased and totally unhinged Ranveer makes for a perfect anti-hero which he gives in the form of a monster of a Sultan. Clearly Singh has been given a lot of room to improvise and undoubtedly, he makes the best of it. If Singh thinks that we will hate him after seeing him as the evil Sultan of Delhi, he’s DEAD WRONG!
Deepika’s Rani Padmavati doesn’t really speak much verbally, but, her eyes are talking all the time, and, when it’s time for her to talk, she delivers quite a punch whenever she does. Being able to talk non-verbally on screen is the mark of a true actor. But, don’t really expect her character to take off right from the start, for the first half is all about the brimming romance between her and Shahid Kapoor’s Maharawal Ratan Singh, which, much to the credit of the two actors and the writers, is handled beautifully and you could feel that the love between the two is pure and even ravishing at some parts. Who knew that this pair would click? But, when the second half comes along, that’s when Deepika’s Padmavati really takes off as a badass strategist and it’s a treat to watch.
Shahid Kapoor’s Maharawal Ratan Singh is a Rajput King who plays by the book to a fault. It is those moments when the Rajput pride and the need of being known as the righteous king in the books of history possess him that makes his character totally naïve about what Alauddin usually has in store for him in terms of surprises and, usually, Khilji ends up getting an upper hand. So, although his actions are instrumental to the story, he is nothing but an instrument in this epic. He could have been a character that you’d really care or feel for, but unfortunately, it looks like the makers haven’t even as much as thought about making him one.
After the leads, there’s Aditi Rao Hydari, who, in the little screen time that she has, really gets to shine bright and she really does look like a part of a royal lineage. (Fun fact: she already is in real life!). Jim Sarbh as Alauddin’s wife-like major general (as pointed out by a character) Malik Kafur seems too, well, miscast for the role, and it is his western-esque accent to blame for that. On the other hand, he seems too harmless for someone who is the right hand of someone who was perhaps the most powerful ruler of that time.
As far as direction and music goes, it’s SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI for crying out loud. What do you expect other that sheer brilliance and artfully crafted frames from him? Also, Bhansali has a thing of capturing breath-taking scenes, but that needs no mention. If you bar a few war scenes where CGI has been used terribly, this directorial venture is a visual treat! But, we still think that Padmaavat would have been a better, given that we don’t know what all has been chopped off so that the film can finally be released.
If you thought that Baahubali was larger than life and worth whatever amount you paid for it was worth it, Padmaavat will blow your mind!
A must watch!