“Padmaavat”: My Two Cents

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Poster courtesy: newsonscreen.com

The Karni Sena, through its harsh and ignorant protests, has ensured “Padmaavat” will bask in the limelight a lot longer than it might have in different circumstances. Though I’m hesitant to write more than has already been said, I’d like to pen some thoughts. These are musings of a history buff and film lover more than a critical movie review.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for presenting the simplest stories as grand magnum opuses. One expects his films be replete with beautiful people, melodious music, gorgeous costumes, and grand sets. He cannot be faulted on the visual appeal of his movies. “Padmaavat” is no exception. The grand cinematography, detailed costumes, and stellar performances by Deepika Padukone (Rani Padmavati), Ranveer Singh (Allaudin Khalji) and Shahid Kapoor (Rana Ratan Singh) particularly stand out. Rana Ratan Singh and Rani Padmavati’s passionate love successfully tugged at my romantic heartstrings.

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Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

Excited to watch the movie!

To really evaluate it, I’d like to compare the film to Bhansali’s previous ones; Bollywood movies in general; and finally to international historical dramas. In my opinion, Padmaavat is only a slightly different rendition of his previous work. His last few movies have featured the same retinue of actors performing in similar dramatic cadence; all stories of unrequited love; the same kind of music and overall effect. This repetition will not hold him in good stead in the long run.

In the context of Bollywood films, it fares better than most other tripe served to audiences these days. However, that does not make it a good film. In comparison to international period dramas, it seems over the top and even childish. Bhansali seems to have been inspired by famous international TV shows like “Game of Thrones” for his battle scenes; and so this comparison is inevitable, if slightly unfair.

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People flocked to the halls to watch the movie on its first weekend

It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t make understated period dramas. The story itself offers rich ground for engagement; as do the costumes, background score, stunning settings of the arid desert, and capable actors. If he had downplayed the excessive drama; it could have been a masterpiece. As it stands, I feel the film is only above average.

Historians have protested Allaudin Khalji’s portrayal as a ruthless, savage, almost mad man. Yet I understand Bhansali’s need to portray him as such in order to valorize the Rajputs and put them on a high pedestal. In fact, the poem on which it’s based has been drastically changed to suit the setting of a Bollywood film.

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We were unsure what to expect after its extensive coverage in the news!

A word must be said on the controversy surrounding the film. The offending intimate scene between Rani Padmavati and Allaudin Khilji was cut before release. There seems no reason for anybody to be displeased. I fail to understand why anyone should be up in arms about a historical legend (read more about the original poem here). It’s sad that certain sections of our country spark unnecessary embers for their moment in the sun. Whatever happened to creative license, freedom of speech and the right to privacy and personal choice?!

I found the movie entertaining and would recommend it as a one-time watch. Its over-theatricality hampers the overall effect, but everyone should watch it to snub the patriarchal ignoramuses braying against it.

Buy Tickets on www.bookmyshow.com here.

Film rating: 3/5

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