A Premiere show of 'Padmaavat' (Telugu) was arranged by the makers on Tuesday. Here is our review of the much-awaited, controversial drama.
This is one rare film whose storyline has been known almost in toto even before its theatrical release.
Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor), the King of Mewar, falls in love with Princess Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) in the very initial scenes of the film. As this love story unfolds in Mewar, a deadly development takes place in Delhi.
Sex-obsessed and power-hungry foreigner Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) sets his sight on the Delhi throne. Jalaluddin Khilji (Raza Murad) is assassinated in a palace intrigue and Alauddin ascends the throne.
By a quirk of fate, this is when Mewar's Rajaguru gets banished by Ratan Singh for committing a sin. He turns into a traitor. Knowing Alauddin's lust for expansionism and beautiful women, he describes Padmavati as the world's most beautiful woman. Alauddin now wants to own her, come what may.
This makes the monstrous Islamic invader draw up a plan to invade Ratan Singh's kingdom. When the Rajputs valorously defend themselves, he has other plans. What are they? Will Ratan be able to outwit him? What is the role of Padmavati in saving her kingdom and her husband from danger? What happens in the end when the invading Khilji soldiers seem invincible? The second half is all about these elements.
Writers Sanjay Leela Bhansali (also the director) and Prakash Kapadia should take a bow for the mesmerizing first half, if not the whole film. The first half gives at least 20 huge takeaways, something only an extraordinary film can do. We shall discuss a few fabulous moments, not necessarily in descending or ascending order of their creative worth.
1. When Padmavati's arrow accidentally hits Ratan Singh in the jungle, the latter, already mesmerized by the former's enchanting beauty, says, "Banam guri thappaledu".
2. Soon after their marriage, Ratan Singh takes his wife to his Rajaguru, who poses esoteric questions to her. Her answers are the stuff of great writing. The way this scene ends with an intriguing expression on the Rajaguru's face, it says a lot about nuanced direction.
3. When Ratan Singh tells his wife that she can't find an ocean in the desert (the kingdom is part desert), she tells him there is an ocean and it's his eyes!
4. Ratan Singh banishes the Rajaguru for clandestinely watching him making love to his wife. Cut to Delhi, Alauddin is shown enjoying the Rajaguru's flute-playing while making love to his wife Mehrunissa (Aditi Rao Hydari). The traitor has arrived and his music is soothing. Such splendid writing, this!
5. Every single scene between Malik Kafur (played by Jim Sarbh who is Alauddin's homosexual slave) and the king is fabulous. It's in front of this character that the egomaniacal king displays vulnerability. While camping on the outskirts of Ratan Singh's kingdom, Alauddin derives pleasure out of Kafur's song and ego-massaging.
6. The song mentioned in the aforementioned para and the one that plays out before the arrival of Padmavati at Alauddin's palace in Delhi are fabulously conceived. The dance moves are character-driven and the choreography is so organic that there is no trace of modernity in them.
7. When Alauddin wants to apply the Holi colours on himself, he rubs his face into the colours. This one shot shows how crazy he is.
8. The Holi-time romance between Ratan Singh and Padmavati is so aesthetic. All three C's are fab here: Choreography, Chemistry, Cinematography.
By and by, one can keep on describing several such flashes of brilliance in 'Padmaavat'. It may be peculiar to say this, but this reviewer never was so impressed with the dialogues of a film since 'Arjun Reddy', never mind the difference in the genres of these films.
Here are the film's downsides:
1. If you go to this movie expecting it to be a war drama, you will be in for a disappointment. The war episodes are brief and many will find them ill-executed.
2. The second half is rather very plain. Barring a few bright spots, it suffers from conventional dialogues and screenplay. The climax, however, is good.
3. Padmavati's character stops to excite after a point, so also Ratan Singh's, especially because of Shahid's one-note expression.
4. The intrigues plotted by Padmavati smack of a simplistic flavour.
The film's best performer has to be Ranveer. In playing the soulless lecher, he becomes its soul. Deepika looks like a dream in the initial portions. She acts with aplomb in the later half. Aditi Rao, Jim and Raza are amazing.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali's music is impressive, and Sanchit Balhara's BGM is good. Sudeep Chatterjee's cinematography is top-notch.
Nuanced screenplay, dialogues that come with depth, amazing Ranveer and the visuals make the first half a mind-blowing experience. The second half is plain for the most part. Don't expect the war sequences to amaze you.