By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 25, 2018

Rating: 3 / 5

3stars


The essence: The canvass is grand but there is that something lacking that would have made it an epic film. Methinks, if every character was invested in as passionately as Khilji, Padmaavat would have passed with flying colours.


Sanjay Leela Bhansali could well have titled his film Alauddin Khilji! But, then again…

Clearly, I was wondering what the fuss was all about. Poor Prasoon Joshi; it was baptism by fire for him as chief of the censor board. As a creative person, I’m sure he saw magic in the movie.

Magic in the madness of Khilji so effortlessly essayed by Ranveer Singh that probably for the first time in the history of Bollywood, a villain holds center stage. Khilji’s dominance is so complete that he negates any impact of the hero, who in the movie is called Rani Padmavati!

Khilji is busy with his madness and mayhem in 13th century Afghanistan. His is a character marinated with a heavy helping of insanity, coupled with his weakness for women. Elsewhere, a courtier, thrown out by Rawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) from his kingdom, Mewar, for daring to invade his privacy when he is with his princess, plots the downfall of the King. He plays on the weakness of Khilji by informing him of the beauty of Rani Padmavati.

This much is enough for Khilji. He goes to war with the Rajputs (just to capture Padmavati) camping for over six months with his army at the periphery of the heavily guarded boundaries of the Chittor Fort. When all fails, Khilji plays the peace card. Being a Rajput, a tribe that honours their guests, Ratan Singh realizes his folly only after he is captured and Padmavati is asked to come to Delhi for his release.

Padmavati is no fool. A hunter herself, she plots the release of her husband playing Khilji at his own mind games!

The whole movie is based on Khilji’s quest to get Padmavati. But we all know that Padmavati was too shrewd for the wicked Khilji.

Ranveer Singh runs away with the script of the film. He stands out in every scene simply tearing through it with his menacing creativity. Bad guys have been beaten to pulp; but this is one badass who changes the narrative and plays both villain and hero with equal aplomb! The cinematography as usual is breathtaking with Bhansali leaving no room for flaw.

Best actor in a negative role: Ranvir Singh (Padmaavat).
Best actor: Ranvir Singh (Padmaavat).

I’m sure there will be a dual category next year round! Oh yes, there’s also an item song Khali bhali ho gaya mera dil; a song choreographed, executed, captured and performed in style. It reminded me of ‘Dushman ki dekho waat laoli’ from Bajirao Mastani. 

Deepika Padukone shines, albeit haltingly as her scope is limited. Shahid Kapoor, himself not known to shy away from a good plot (he has essayed memorable roles in Kaminey and Haider) is deliberately pushed in a corner by Bhansali who invests all his energies in the character of Khilji. The canvass is grand but there is that something lacking that would have made this an epic film. Methinks, if every character was invested in as passionately as Khilji, Padmaavat would have passed with flying colours.

Yes, there was no one to match Khilji’s madness! Padmaavat is interesting with Bhansali taking a proper narrative route (unlike his 2013 film Gooliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela ) to establish Khilji’s motives. But with him not adding value to the other characters around, he misses the mark by almost a yard!

The film is a little under three hours (definitely lengthy) but with Bhansali adding his grandeur like only he can, time is suspended. Padmaavat is definitely worth a watch.


CREDITS
Producer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sudhanshu Vats, Ajit Andhare
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Star Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor

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