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Posted at: Jan 25, 2018, 4:16 PM; last updated: Jan 25, 2018, 10:13 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: PADMAAVAT

A royal extravaganza

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Film: Padmaavat

  • Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Jim Sarbh and Aditi Rao Hydari
  • Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
A royal extravaganza
A poster of Padmaavat

Nonika Singh

Never has a film occupied national consciousness, prime time television and hogged newspaper headlines (still continues to do) as Padmavati, now Padmaavat, has. Now that the regal queen (real or fictional) is out on the screen despite all hurdles, the question that has been begging for answers is the first one that needs to be tackled. Is there anything objectionable in the film strictly from Rajput point of view that is. On the contrary if the film has to be faulted it can be for glorifying Rajput valour a bit too much.

Having said that let’s move to its merit/demerits purely as a film, a work of creativity, an artistic endeavour, nothing more nothing less.

Spectacular...one word defines all of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films and with Padmaavat once again he can take a bow as master of scenography. Whatever else you may or may not grant him but there is no denying his stupendous craft and his vision that is to put it simply is extraordinary. Each scene is mounted with meticulous precision; richly opulent, grand and satisfying.

Inspired by an epic poem written in 1540 by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, the narrative set in 13th century may not get into its many layers and comes straight to the crux; Rani Padmavati’s unparalleled beauty and Allauddin Khilji’s misplaced obsession for it. Indeed, there is little room for profound thoughts such as; “Desire is insatiable, permanent / but this world is illusory and transient / Insatiable desire man continues to have/ Till life is over and he reaches his grave.”  The words Alauddin Khilji is supposed to have uttered.

Undeniably, a film is not just a string of visuals alone and there are moments when you feel this one relies too much on visual perfection.  This is where his battery of fine actors comes into play. Performances are top notch. Difficult choice to pick a winner, though Ranveer Singh dominates so does Jim Sarbh as his slave and confidante Malik Kafur. The first half belongs to Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh: one regally resplendent as Raja Rawal Rattan Singh, ruler of Chittor principled to a fault, the other devilishly enticing as Allauddin Khilji the Sultan of Delhi, ruler with no scruples. Two are cast in different moulds, may be a bit of an archetype; good versus bad. Yet Khilji’s world has enough dramatic tension and maniac energy. In a scene or two Ranveer might seem to be crossing the line, a song or two superfluous ... but by and large there is a method to his madness. In the final scene you can feel his frustration like a palpable force. Every single sinewy move of his speaks even though the camera rarely gets close to his face in this particular shot.

In fact, for picturising the climax scene alone Bhansali deserves a four star rating. He builds a crescendo, poetry in motion and Deepika looks like goddess incarnate. No other director could have painted the scene with such dramatic flourish even though it has elements of his past films. Yes, the film has some low moments where you feel the splendour is dominating the substance. But what you remember and take home is Deepika’s face— glowing and radiant. Just the right expression of dignity, beauty and courage melt and meld unto her face and illuminate the film way beyond. We all know Padmavati committed jauhar along with other women. Only the film elevates it to another level, at once beauteous and riveting.

So, dear viewer leave the baggage of hype and controversy behind and you will find this visual ode to Rajput community a fairly satisfying royal affair.

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