If there is one thing that Padmaavat, earlier titled Padmavati, tells us it’s that Sanjay Leela Bhansali is the monarch of grandeur, opulence, and splendor. The director’s vision carries forward his legacy of larger-than-life films, so even though the battle is between Rawal Ratan Singh and Alauddin Khilji, it’s Bhansali’s unfazed vision and technical finesse that takes the cake.
Although Violent protests against the film have rocked states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in the past few days, the film has managed to impress the audience across the country right from the first day of release. According to famous movie critic and biz analyst Taran Adarsh, the Sanjay Leela Bhansali directed movie is O-U-T-S-T-A-N-D-I-N-G. He says, “Padmaavat is a masterpiece.” Taran Adarsh took to Twitter to give his review. The film, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in lead roles, is based on the saga of a historic 13th century battle between Maharaja Ratan Singh and his army of Mewar and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi.
Story: Set in 1303 AD medieval India, Padmaavat is the story of honor, valor, and obsession. Queen Padmavati is known for her exceptional beauty along with a strong sense of justice and is the wife of Maharawal Ratan Singh and pride of the Kingdom of Chittor, a prosperous kingdom in the north-west of India. The legend of her beauty reaches the reigning sultan of Hindustan – Allaudin Khilji. After taking over the Delhi sultanate, Khilji is told by a priest Raghav Chetan that if he wishes to be the true Sultan of Hind, he needs to have Padmavati by his side and rule the Rajputs. The Sultan who is a tyrant, is fixated with wanting anything that is of exceptional beauty for himself. He lays siege on the impregnable fortress of Chittorgarh. After a grueling 6 months, he returns empty-handed. He becomes obsessed and now wants to capture Chittor and its Queen at any cost. He returns with a bigger army and raging fury. He attacks Chittor with brutal force and a bloody and fearsome battle takes places between the righteous Maharawal Ratan Singh defending his kingdom and the honor of his queen and Sultan Allaudin Khilji. Khilji manages to breach the fortress but in vain as the Queen chooses to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect her dignity.
Of course, Padmaavat is spectacular: no one can do spectacle like Bhansali. This was what he was born to do. You can easily delight in it while the going is good. But nearly three hours of it, and looping rhetoric around what constitutes Rajput valour can and does become tiresome. And that compulsion to make ‘sati’ so good-looking, when the singeing of flesh can be so gruesome, is troubling.
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If it hadn’t been for the extreme reactions from a bunch of extreme reactionaries-cum-buffoons which nearly derailed the release the film, Bhansali’s latest opus would have been just another Bhansali extravaganza, full of costumery and puffery. But given that all art is political, even if it is dressed up art, Padmaavat becomes more than it is, because the director chooses to outline the vileness of his antagonist, and underline the ‘pati-vrata ness’ of Rani Padmavati. Far from any subtle touches, Bhansali’s black-and-white delineation of the good Hindu and the bad Muslim is so stark that we are left with no illusion about which part of the political firmament he wants to be on the right side of.
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If there’s one thing that keeps us from brooding too much through the film, it is Ranveer Singh. Not once does he try to make us like him, and that makes us like him even more. As a performer, he has always been unpredictable, in a good way. As Bhansali’s Khilji, he is electric. His eccentric moves and dialogue delivery make him an ever-ideal fit for Khilji. As a menacing ruler, who is atrociously self-consumed with the idea of victory and becoming the Sultan and gaining possession of all things exquisite, Khilji’s depiction might raise some eyebrows but as far as performance goes, no one could have done it better than a meat-mincing Ranveer. And try as anyone might, so is the attraction between the outsider and the queen: it is their doomed love story, whose embers rain on the screen, that we take away with us.
Deepika is an epitome of grace and she delivers a knockout performance as a Rani yet again. Her portrayal of Padmavati is all things ethereal and keen. And even though she doesn’t have many dialogues, it’s her eyes that do the talking. Shahid does a controlled act of the righteous king and does full justice to his part. With kohl-ed eyes and an impressive build, he looks the part.