Padmaavat Movie Review
Resplendent costumes, beautifully lit frames, gorgeous cinematography and stunning actors, somewhere in the middle of all this, is a story that has no impact on you whatsoever. At the end of this exhausting Magnum Opus, the only emotion I felt was that of frustration and bewilderment as to how, in the 21st century, can a filmmaker glorify a horrific social evil that took centuries to be eradicated. It is beyond me why Sanjay Leela Bhansali chose to tell this story and even if he did, why tell it like this !
Thousands of women, with a smile on their faces, jumping into fire, why show a pregnant woman and a little girl, as a part of this Jauhar committing lot. What is one trying to communicate with that shot ? The bravery of the little girl or of the fetus that is yet unborn ?
Barring this puzzling and ridiculous approach to this story, there’s nothing much to talk about this boring, insipid film. The 150 minutes of the film are filled with stereotypes reiterating the valor of the Rajputs. Now, if this overtly reverential depiction is a defense mechanism against the ones with ‘ hurt ‘ sentiments or just his failure as a storyteller, is a debate for another day.
If there’s anything to discuss about, it is Ranveer Singh’s insane portrayal of Khilji. Ranveer revels in the range of madness and cruelty Khilji possesses. At times, he looks like a Tiger possessed by an insatiable ghost. It is not the character as much the brilliance of the actor. He infuses this evil beast with such antiques that it is hard to look away when he is on screen. He wears black, kills family and is hinted to be bisexual. Shahid’s Rana Raval Singh wears white, protects his family and the Rajput pride with great earnestness. The costume choice for these two characters sums up the Director’s treatment of the story. It is either Black or White, there is no complexity whatsoever. It is ironic how a visually colorful film like this can be utterly black and white in its character treatment.
All the interesting bits in the film involve Ranveer Singh, and there not many. Jim Sarbh, who plays Khilji’s loyal-to-death companion, is a unique performer. “Khilji ke Begum hi samjhiye ” a character says, referring to Jim Sarbh’s character Malik Kafur. (Hinting about their sexual orientation). I wish we see more of this actor. Both Ranveer and Jim Sarbh are acting beasts of a different kind. When they are in a frame with others in the film, it is like they do not belong to this world and have only descended to unleash havoc over it.
It is impossible for a story to work or have a grip over the audience’s attention if the audience do not know why a character is doing what it is doing. The audience has to completely buy into the decisions the characters are making or at least understand the reasons behind their decisions. But in this film, almost every decision made by the Rajput king is self-contradictory to his statements or ‘ usool ‘ and off all, the scene where Padmavati asks her husband’s ‘ permission ‘ to die and how the husband responds to it, is the most ridiculous bit of the film.
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Great visuals, good acting is all there is to admire. It surely will not offend any group’s sentiments but will surely bore the hell out.