Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for depicting epics of grand scale in a dramatic yet captivating way. His way of carrying melodrama in scenes, which is largely typical but still alluring is something I find admirable as a cine enthusiast and his new movie Padmavati is nothing short from delivering all those Sanjay Leela Bhansali ingredients one would expect. With a fabulous cast and much grander and authentic looking production design, I have no doubts in my mind in recommending this film if you know the style of the director.
So the plot is pretty familiar to most of us, thanks to all the Senas who have been trying desperately to bring down this film. Padmavati is the wife of King Rawal Ratan Singh. The charming beauty creates a curiosity in the mind of a barbaric king of Khilji dynasty, Alauddin Khilji. Khilji decides to attack Ratan Singh’s land Mewar at Chittor Fort and the story is about how the valorous Rajput men fought against the huge and well equipped army of Khilji and how the action of the women, lead by Rani Padmavati kept the dignity of the community by not letting Khilji get what he wished for.
The authenticity of these characters was always a controversy. So it is better to look at the movie as a total fiction. When I heard the synopsis level version of Padmavat the poem, I could sense the possibility of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film in it. Mr. Bhansali has always opted conflicts that are more emotional and attached to the ideologies of his characters. Padmavati, the movie is not entirely focusing on the life of this queen. The demerit I could sense in this movie was the less emphasis on the Queen. While the first half of this film was between Ratan Singh and Khilji, the second half has the same thing happening between Khilji and Padmavati. It is actually the construction of scenes that makes it so compelling to watch even when this movie becomes a bit too elaborate.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali uses extreme drama and handles it in a way nobody else does. He knows how to get the best out from his actors and even the cheesiest looking element in a scene would have some sort of freshness to its credit. The barbaric rawness of Khilji we see here has given Mr. Bhansali an opportunity to add some realness to the usually sophisticated conversations between kings. We have the Rajputs celebrating Diwali and Holy while the enemy is at their door step, and it is the way the film has been constructed that makes us believe that there are no logic flaws in that strategy. Sudeep Chatterji’s frames are grand and the Bhansali way of maintaining symmetry in frames is evident in the photography. The combat between Khilji and Ratan Singh in the second half was a great mix of quality action direction and cinematography. The music was really good and the background score scored enormously in the last 15 minutes. The visual effects of this movie were also quite a commendable one and were used in a really sensible way unlike certain epics with too much emphasis on visual effects. As always, the dance choreography was fabulous.
Deepika Padukone plays the title role of Padmavati and the only bit of disappointment for me in this movie was that this character wasn’t challenging her in a way I expected it to. There are moments where she understands the character and delivers the emotion correctly. But it felt a bit less when compared to the amount of time Bhansali invested on Khilji. Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji is fabulous and I liked the way he controlled his off screen energy and channeled it perfectly to giving life to Bhansali’s version of Alauddin Khilji. The energy he has infectious and one can see the rude and deterministic fire of that King in his eyes. I had a fear that Shahid Kapoor may get sidelined as he played Rawal Ratan Singh in a story about Alauddin Khilji’s desire for Rani Padmavati. But he does have a space and delivers it pretty neatly. Jim Sarbh was convincing as Malik Kafur and so was Aditi Rao Hydari as Mehrunisa.
Barring the fact that Padmavati should have deserved a little more space in the tale as it was a story built around that character, I was a happy Sanjay Leela Bhansali admirer at the end of Padmavati. If you have liked his recent grand outings like Bajirao Mastani and Ramleela, Padmavati will also give you those Bhansali elements in a convincing package.
Barring the fact that Padmavati should have deserved a little more space in the tale as it was a story built around that character, I was a happy Sanjay Leela Bhansali admirer at the end of Padmavati
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended