Padmaavat – An Epic Period Film Review

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Source: http://www.thecommonmanspeaks.com

W A R N I N G: CONTAINS SPOILERS

(Disclaimer: The film is loaded with misogynistic messages but needs to be taken into context with the era in which the story unravels where such behaviours were common. I do not promote or condone the chauvinistic messages in this film. The end of the film shows a Rajput ritual of mass self-immolation, Jauhar, which was conducted by women to save their honour from the enemy when defeat was a certainty. The film does not glorify Jauhar but depicts it as a brave act that the Rajput women see as necessary to save their honour from abuse and rape by enemy.)

Special thanks to Movie Palace Grenada for showing this film – it will be playing til Feb 7th 2018 for all those interested

Padmaavat is a period film, set in 13th century Rajasthan India, about the story of Rani Padmavati and the sultan who yearns for her to be his. This film was promised to be of epic proportions from sets, costume, direction, art, dialogue, performance and poetry. It is the most expensive Hindi film ever made and the first Hindi film to release in IMAX 3D. This is a spectacular film with every scene looking like a painting. If you go just to watch the grandeur it’s totally worth it. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is gifted with the art of depicting a story that is so spell-binding, you are literally transported into that era. The cinematography is incredible. Check out the trailer. Spellbinding!

“Padmaavat” was a highly anticipated film firstly due to the reputation of it’s director consistently creating magnificent films and secondly due to countless controversies. Formally slated to release December 1st 2017 and titled Padmavati, this film was released on January 25th 2018 and renamed Padmaavat. Politically driven protests with baseless claims about alleged scenes in the film, the incorrect historical depiction of certain characters and death threats being sent to the leading actors and the director were some of the many reasons for involuntary postponement of its release.

“Padmaavat” is adapted from the poem Padmavat by Sufi poetย Malik Muhammad Jayasi. It was written 200 plus years after the siege of Chittor fort as mentioned in the film. It’s important to note that Rani Padmavati (Padmini), the main character of the film is fictitious and created in the imagination of the poet Jayasi. Rana Ratan Singh and Sultan Alauddin Khilji however were actual historical figures. The characteristics and personality traits of both Rana & Khilji were created by the director. The film was modified from the original poem.

Leading actorsย 

  • Deepika Padukone (Padmavati) – Princess of Sinhala (Sri Lanka), Queen of Mewar, Wife of Rana Ratan Singh
Pink Villa
Image Source: Pink Villa
  • Ranveer Singh (Sultan Alauddin Khilji) – Second Sultan of Khilji dynasty, Husband of Mehrunisa
Ranveer The Financial Express
Imagie Source: The Financial Times
  • Shahid Kapoor (Rana Ratan Singh) – King of Mewar, Husband of Padmavati
Shahid
Image Source: YouTube

Supporting actors

  • Aditi Rao Hidari (Mehrunisa) – Daughter of Jalaluldin Khilji, First queen of Delhi Sultanate, wife of Alauddin Khilji
free press journal
Image Source: Free Press Journal
  • Jim Sarbh (Malik Naib Ghafoor) – Right hand man of Alauddin Khilji
  • Raza Murad (Jalaluddin Khilji) – First sultan of Khilji dynasty, Mehrunisa’s father
  • Anupriya Goenka – (Nagmati) – First wife to Ratan Singh, Queen of Mewar

If you know me, you know Sanjay Leela Bhansali is my all time favourite director bar none. I fell in love with his work since I saw “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”. I highly recommend that film. His sets are magnificent! He chooses a particular culture from India and he nails every single aspect. You will not find any holes in his portrayal. He is very meticulous and I admire that about him the most. The costumes and jewelry are immaculate. His budget is always immense and he can do no wrong when it comes to delivery. His films are paintings come to life. Every scene is stunning.

 

 

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I had the highest of expectations from this film. After seeing the trailer and the famous “Ghoomar” song I couldn’t wait to experience this film. Yes, experience the film. You don’t just “watch” a SLB film. It’s a full on roller coaster ride!

There were some moments in the film that were so beautiful to me (more than the rest).

  • The entry of each character in the plot was fierce. They were just presented full on with no frills. I loved that.
  • When Rana Ratan Singh is wounded and is with Padmavati in her home, the scenery from her window of the waterfalls in the background is stunning! It will literally take your breath away.
  • On their first night as husband and wife there is a scene between Padmavati & Rana Singh with a chandelier where she is seen drawing the strings of the light fixture. It is reminiscent of Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan’s scene from HDDCS. That was one of my favourite scenes in the film!
  • There is a beautiful poem that’s a tribute to fallen soldiers. It’s heart wrenching.
  • During battle after Rana Ratan Singh is being rescued from Alauddin’s imprisonment, his men are seen warding off the enemy. His main man Gora’s head gets sliced off but his body is shown continuously swinging the sword at his enemies. It reiterates the dialogue by Ratan Singh that even if a Rajput’s head gets cut off, he continues fighting.
  • The last scene where Alauddin Khilji defeats Ratan Singh andย simultaneously Padmavati is preparing herself and the Rajput women for Jauhar, is the jewel in the crown of the entire film. I was literally holding my breath while this scene played out. It is stunning frame by frame. Deepika looks like a goddess! If nothing else in the film catches your attention, the climax absolutely will! When Padmavati enters the fire, you feel her sorrow, happiness, relief and strength all wrapped in one.

Performances

  • Deepika Padukone is elegance, grace, beauty, confidence and strength personified. I could not stop staring at her. I will admit, however, that I was left wanting more from her performance in this film. In almost every single scene her eyes were filled with tears. In the majority of those scenes, the tears were unnecessary. It was almost as though that was the only way to show depth or emotion. She had some powerful dialogues. The question-answer scene between her and Raghav Chetan was perfection and her last speech to the Rajput women before they prepared for Jauhar were her shining moments in my opinion. I didn’t see enough of Deepika to convince me that the movie should have been titled Padmaavat. To me, the movie was more about Alauddin’s ongoing conquest of her than it being actually about her or her life. On a positive note, her gracefulness and execution of dance in “Ghoomar” is one of my all time favourites. I will forever love her in that. Perfection! (watch in full screen)
  • Ranveer Singh – Ranveer as Sultan Alauddin Khiji was supposed to be a monster, murderer, conqueror of all things beautiful, unethical leader with a cut-throat personality. I would love to say he was brilliant and I really wanted to be in awe of this character but he crossed the line of brilliance and stepped into over the top – for me personally. I found him to be most convincing and dramatic when he had no dialogue at all and just his facial expressions conveyed his emotion. I loved the scene when he dunked his face into coloured powder for Holi festival and also the few scenes were his eyes showed pure, fiery desire for Padmavati. Other than that, I just felt he was a bit too much. There were aspects of his personality that were supposed to convey humour as well but it didn’t work for me. His performance overall wasn’t enough for me to call his character multi-dimensional. I will say thought that he was brilliant in the song Khalibali.
  • Shahid Kapoor – There wasn’t a scene with Shahid that I would call outstanding in the entire film save his speech regarding the pride of Rajputs (which was only a few sentences). He did justice to his character yes and played the part but he was not memorable. His physique however was excellent and the ladies will enjoy those scenes where he is bare-chested. I also found his more dramatic scenes over the top. He seemed out of place in a SLB film to be honest and I’m unsure as to why. His chemistry with Deepika was memorable in only two scenes for me and even then I struggled to hold onto those. Their time together was so few and far in between.

For me the three characters that held my attention and made me long for more of them were those of Mehrunisa (Alauddin’s wife), Malik Naib Ghafoor (Alauddin’s right hand man) and Gora (Rata Singh’s Rajput General of Chirror).

  • Mehrunisa was stunning in her traditional Persian-inspired garb. She only had a few scenes in the film but she went above and beyond performance wise in every one of them. The scene between her and Padmavati when she frees Ratan Singh as Padmavati clasps her hands in thanks and Mehrunisa bids her farewell, you truly feel emotional. She was brilliant in this film. A new favourite for me.
  • Malik Naib Ghafoor was a unique character and personality type from any other character I’ve witnessed in Indian films. He was a eunuch that was borderline in love with Alauddin (or so he portrayed) and everything about this character was fresh. He was convincing and nailed all of his scenes. You were able to feel his passion and loyalty for Alauddin through his performace.
  • Gora conveyed a range of emotions and captured my attention. I felt deep sorrow when he was slain. He was spectacular in his few scenes as well.

Lastly the most incredible part of this film – for me – was the end. The climactic, captivating final scene where Alauddin is rushing towards Chittor fort to get his first proper look at Padmavati and to make her his will draw on every emotion you possess. The entire scene is reminiscent of one of my all time favourite films by SLB “Devdas” where Aishwarya Rai finds out that a dying man that is lying outside her manor is her beloved Devdas and goes running desperately to see him before he takes his last breath. That scene too is beautifully drawn out but leaves you gasping for air and clutching your chest when the doors of the manor close and she is thrown against it and does not catch her final glimpse. Similarly, Alauddin is desperately racing towards the fort to finally acquire Padmavati and reaches a that’s sealed off in his face just in time by the Rajput women before they commit Jauhar. Sanjay Leela also uses a vermilion stained white cloth with Ratan Singh’s hand prints that Padmavati carries into the fire with her while in Devdas, Paro (Aishwarya Rai) is seen running towards the manor doors as her bare feet step in vermilion and she leaves red footprints behind, her white sari stained red as well as she runs desperately to see her love one last time. In both films Paro and Alauddin never meet their love.

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The main message I took from the film was that of the desperate need of man to fulfill desires and the lengths humans go to ensure they get what they are after. The thirst for conquest and the journey it takes one on. In the end of the film, no matter what Alauddin did to covet Padmavati, he was unsuccessful and an entire army of men and clan of women perished.

The film overall was magnificent when referring to sets, costume, creativity, cinematography and direction. The performances of the lead characters left me wanting more. Make no mistake, I hold all these main characters in the highest regard and I respect their individual bodies of work, however, I wasn’t as blown away and I thought I would be.

I would describe this film as a luxurious, jewel-clad, grandiose treasure chest that’s empty inside. If you love visuals definitely go to experience that. If you are looking for outstanding performances, look to the supporting actors. The strengths of this film lie in their scenes.

I will always wait to experience a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. He has created some of my all time favourites and even though this movie (performance and plot wise) missed the mark for me, I anticipate his next masterpiece!

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Have you seen Padmaavat as yet? If so, drop your favourite parts in the comments below or feel free to disagree! I’d love to hear from you.

 

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