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Padmaavat  : ‘Vat’s The Fuss About?
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Friday, January 26, 2018
Thriller
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh

Since much fuss has been made about Sanjay Leela Bhansali turning history or fiction into celluloid reality, a bunch of disclaimers must first be viewed. The film is based on Malik Muhammed Jayasi’s Padmaavat which is considered a work of fiction and the makers don’t support the practice of Sati.

 

That crossed, Bhansali goes straight into the history and politics of the Delhi Sultanate and begins his visual orgy of spectacular frames. The impetuous and improper AllauddinKhilji enters with a scene befitting what he’s all about.

 

The Sultan’s daughter Mehrunissa wanted a feather, Allauddin brings her the whole wild bird and wins her hand. It’s all about victory and winning what he fancies, anything nayaab or unique, little to do with the tenderness of romance as is seen on his wedding day. Mehrunissa’s heart begins to flutter right from that day. 

 

Bhansali veers from the Sultanate that’s crude and unethical to Rajasthan where valour and  principles rule until the two different cultures turn into one story.

 

The large canvas and the coarseness intermingle as Allauddin treacherously ascends the throne.

 

In Singhal, a romance blooms. Rajkumari Padmavati has wounded Raja Rawal Ratan Singh of Mewar in more ways than one and he takes her home as his bride. While Chittoor cheers the grand arrival of the stunningly beautiful new Rani, it’s a sight that his first wife dreads.

 

Whatever the overt difference between the raw Sultanate and the refined Rajputs, women and wives have similar heart beats. And palace intrigue is inescapable. All it requires is one traitor to bring the enemy to the door. It happened in the Sultanate. It happens in Mewar.

 

Allauddin is at the door wanting the nayaab Padmavati.

 

The spectacular visuals and aesthetics associated with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and that too in 3D are expectedly stunning, every frame a piece of art.

 

There’s also some fine detailing that gives flesh to every situation.A scene where Padmavati’s intelligence is tested by the Rajguru before he gives his blessings. Or a shot where the unfeeling Allauddin feeds his slave with his hand like he would a pet. A chess game between Khilji and the Raja that centres around the queen. Raja Rawal Singh promising to return from a dangerous tryst with Khilji by the time the moon is out and it turns out to be Amavasya.There are several such scenes that embellish a story that’s all too familiar.

 

Prakash Kapadia’s dialogues like ‘Sarhadein bahut phailaye, ab baahen phailaye,’ or ‘Upawaralabhi Allauddin par bharosa nahin karta, or ‘Gardan aur irada, donon mazboot hona chahiya, help to make Allauddin as wicked as he’s intended to be.

 

Top of the line is Ranveer Singh as Allauddin who’s maniacal to the point of almost seeming comical. Deepika Padukone carries herself like royalty and looks like the stunner who changed history.  Shahid Kapoor as Raja Rawal Ratan Singh is a fine foil to the foul Khilji but comes off as second best.

 

Besides a melodious ‘Ek dil ek jaan,’ the vibrant ‘Ghoomar’ finds Padmavati’s waist demurely covered by computer wizardry as per the suggestions of the Indian Censor Board.

 

While I found nothing to protest about, the one grouse I do have is the inordinate, indulgent length of the film. A crisper edition would’ve been more welcome. The obsession with grandness also takes away from the emotions so potent in a story like this.

 

For a lengthy film that is elevated by the lavishness and scale of its visuals, Padmaavat gets a 3*5 rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author
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