[Review] Padmaavat Will Be Remembered For Being India’s Most Misunderstood Film
The journey of every film begins when a writer gets convinced by an idea they may or may not have discarded in the past.
The legend of Queen Padmavati too has convinced artists to immortalize her story in various forms. However, no artist has ever been so convinced by Queen Padmavati’s story as Sanjay Leela Bhansali is.
Fortunately or unfortunately, Padmaavat is more than just a film. It’s a giant sword of irony that cuts through logic and beliefs alike. For what it is, Padmaavat will always carry the weight of a community’s rise and fall. And that’s where Padmaavat’s story thrives.
Padmaavat begins in 13th Century Afghanistan, in the court of Jalaluddin Khilji, founder of the Khilji Dynasty and our antagonist’s uncle. In a bid to impress the Sultan (Jalaluddin Khilji), Allauddin risks his life for a gift to the Sultan’s daughter.
This is Allauddin Khilji before he became the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. This was a young, thriving, impulsive Allauddin who is already convinced of his greatness.
In a parallel kingdom, Padmavati drives an arrow into a King’s chest, Raval Ratan Singh of Mewar. The two stories were bound to coincide in unforeseen circumstances.
Padmaavat is a director-driven film that, on the surface is about its characters but there’s so much more to it than what we see. The curse of Padmaavat is that the film has become bigger than what it set out to be.
We see Sanjay Bhansali’s cinematic touches as much as we see the deliberately constructed terror in Ranveer Singh‘s eyes. Padmaavat is also the product of the age we live in. In an era where time is a commodity and every day is a revelation, Padmaavat takes its time to seep its roots into your emotional and moral structure.
The story is set in the 13th century so any application of present-day morality will be met with confusion and disapproval. It’s important to have the right expectations for a film like Padmaavat because the film never pretends to be something it’s not.
Like most Sanjay Leela Bhansali films, Padmaavat too needs a broader lens to be observed. Every scene, every shot, every frame has been nailed to near perfection. If the purpose of a film is to transport the audience into the world of its characters, Padmaavat has fulfilled its purpose thrice over.
From its lush-green forests to its murderous sterile deserts, the film has won big in terms of its locations. The thorough and quite yielding depiction of the Chittor Fort gives it a life of its own, which aligns seamlessly with the legend of Queen Padmavati.
Padmaavat is about a Rajput king who speaks about the valor of his community as many times as he proves it. Rawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is the yin to Khilji’s menacing yang. His fills the empty white squares in Khilji’s chess of cruelty.
The film spends much of first half giving a conscience (or the lack of) to its characters. The plot kicks in just moments before the intermission but you never quite feel a lack in the story-telling. Probably because the filmmaker was self-aware of how little his audience knows about the period his film is set in.
When barren lands and mystical palaces of the 13th century are your canvas, the cinematography becomes a director’s paintbrush. And quite honestly, it’s the kind of paintbrush every filmmaker would want for their film. The cinematography of the film is phenomenal, to the point of playing an important role in drawing the audience in. Altering between wide-angle shots and close-ups, Sudeep Chatterjee’s camera takes us inside the world of our characters, but never quite intervening with them.
The second most important aesthetic of the film is its music. Composed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali himself, the background score will compel you to feel for its characters even if you actively try to resist.The score is never imposed more than it’s needed, to maintain the tone of the film, which like most Sanjay Leela Bhansali films lies a little above normal human reactions.
The pace of the film picks up in the second half and never quite slows down till you’re left asking for more.
But Padmaavat is nothing if not for its actors. Deepika Padukone, who recently became a topic of discussion in the organ-selling industry is in top form. A form she has clearly worked very hard to achieve. Her accent and pronunciation find a respectable balance between the Mewari dialect and a more accessible Hindi. Deepika Padukone had already established herself as one of the finest actresses of the country way before Padmaavat ever got released. She does not require Padmaavat to prove to the world that she’s an incredible actor. Instead, the legend of Padmavati required an actress of this might to immortalize her on the screen. And immortalize is exactly what Deepika Padukone has done to the legend of Queen Padmavati.
Shahid Kapoor as a sincere but responsible husband continues to leave traces of authenticity with the role. A Mewar King from the 13th century has never been portrayed in this scale, so no one knew what to expect from the portrayal. However, Shahid’s layered performance of an otherwise do-gooder often leaves the audience wanting to see more of him. The appearance and dialect Shahid Kapoor has adapted for the role is near perfect. No film has ever glorified the Rajput community as much as Padmaavat does and Shahid becomes the perfect instrument to exude that glory.
It is Ranveer Singh’s portrayal of Allauddin Khilji requires multiple viewings. A character that’s been marked takes a while to convince you of his intentions. Khilji betrays his words with horrible actions and leaves everyone in his way marred with death.
The film’s biggest revelation, however, is Jim Sarbh. Easily the most interesting character in the film is played with a certain amount of mystery that makes his character seem more vicious than even Khilji sometimes.
The film beautifully and quite masterfully comes together in the end with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s music shattering all your notions before you make them.
At 2 hours and 43 minutes, Padmaavat is longer by at least 20 minutes but that’s a complaint you wouldn’t concern yourself with when there’s so much to appreciate on the screen.
For everyone’s peace of mind, Padmaavat deserves 3.5/5 from DailySocial. If people outside the theaters see what’s inside the theatres, our news headlines would read something entirely different.