Saturday, May 4, 2019

Padmaavat (2018) A Critical Film Review

Padmaavat: A film that is commendable and partly dissolving but not quite exhilarating ‘Padmaavat’ is essentially a love story between Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), a very beautiful princess of Singhal and Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor), the King of Mewar. Their love at first sight quickly results into the King’s second marriage. Meanwhile, a power obsessed Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh), the Turko-Afghan ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, hears about fascinating beauty of Rani Padmavati, who ultimately calls for a war on Chittor to capture her. The subsequent events form the rest of the narrative. In 1540, Indian Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote an epic poem which named ‘Padmaavat’. He wrote this poem by Awadhi language. The poem describing the story of the historic siege of chittor by Alauddin khilji in 1303. The Malik Muhammad Jayasi text describes her story as follows:  Padmavati was an exceptionally beautiful princess of the Singhal kingdom. Ratan Sen, the Rajput ruler of Chittor Fort, heard about her beauty from a talking parrot named Hiraman. After an adventurous quest, he won her hand in marriage and brought her to Chittor. After that once upon a time Ratan Sen was captured and imprisoned by Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi. While Ratan Sen was in prison, the king of Kumbhalner Devpal became attached with Padmavati’s beauty and proposed to marry her. Ratan Sen returned to Chittor and entered into a duel with Devpal, in which both died. Alauddin Khilji laid siege to Chittor to obtain Padmavati. Facing a certain defeat against Khilji, before Chittor was captured, she and her companions committed Jauhar thereby defeating Khilji’s aim and protecting their honor. Coupled to the Jauhar the Rajput men died fighting on the battlefield.  Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a famous and prominent film director in Bollywood film industry. He adapted the Jayasi’s ‘Padmaavat’ poem and directed a historical film named ‘Padmaavat’ in this year.  Bhansali has explored well-known epic love stories before: Devdas (2002), Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) and Bajirao Mastani (2015). Incidentally, that latter film was also inspired by what some consider historical fiction, and resulted in protests by another community group for misrepresenting historical figures. Fortunately, at the time, a long disclaimer that the movie is inspired by history and does not represent it seemed to do the trick to pacify protests. ‘Padmaavat’ opens with an even lengthier disclaimer, and adds another one but more on the second disclaimer shortly. This film made a history in Bollywood film industry for its highly commercial success.  Generally we should discuss about film content and theme. Every film industry has own filmic style. Sometimes they promote their cultural heritage, social and economic issues. But we also see some industry where they portray their cinema as a tool for cultural aggression. Generally love, emotion, dance, music, melodrama are the general types of Bollywood cinema. They usually use the techniques for their industry. But now-a-days the tendency of the techniques is changed. They count the historical based cinema and get success from them. That is a great example of ‘Padmavat’ film.  Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ is the most ambitious film to emerge from Bollywood’s stable in quite a while. It is based on the legend of Rani Padmavati, a legendary Hindu Rajput queen which I mentioned above. Bhansali implicitly extols questionable concepts of femininity, loyalty, and spirituality even if ‘Padmaavat’ is more concerned with secular traditions than religious beliefs. It is hard to imagine being able to talk about this film, or its characters symbolic importance without getting into a fight about its inherently retrogressive nature.   Still, ‘Padmaavat’ seems to exist to show the beauty of Jayasi’s archetypal love story. Through several key scenes, Bhansali emphasizes Alauddin’s secular greed and obsessive character. Singh’s intensely committed performance makes believe in his character’s Iago-like malevolence, even when Singh himself goes so far over the proverbial top that he flies into the stratosphere. Singh’s charisma makes that believe him when he snarls, grimaces, and even dances out Alauddin’s character-defining aggression. Singh’s dancing is especially impressive, as in the scene where Alauddin gathers his men and boasts that he is ‘aloof before heaven’. This set piece is so rousing that it stands out as the best musical number in a film full of strong vocal performances and well-conceived choreography. I seldom feel this way about a Bollywood film, but when I am watching ‘Padmaavat’, I felt privileged as a moviegoer. Privileged that such a film has been made about Rajput pride, and privileged that it has been made in our times that only glorifies the Rajputs. But unfortunately, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali fails to give us a compelling cinematic experience which would not rely only on visual appeal of the film. ‘Padmaavat’ is one of the most expensive Indian films ever made. It is also the first Indian film to be released in IMAX 3D.  Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes his most courageous film yet, but sadly the results are not very impressive. The film that is a war epic, love story, and costume drama, all in one, is marshed down by medium performance. Many will be said about the film’s daunting length, and the truth is that it could have been shorter. It’s the kind of film that tries too hard to get your attention in the run-time of almost three hours. However, the second half of the film does get little pacy and you are swept into Rani Padmavati’s political tactics and her personal growing-up journey. The idea of Jauhar seems a bit jarred in today’s times, especially when the entire film builds to that one high moment. Deepika Padukone performs adequately. She looks ethereal like that a compliment that she has heard many times before, especially in Bhansali’s last two movies. Here, she has minimum dialogues to deliver and she lets her expressive eyes do the talking and that only works in her favor. Shahid Kapoor gives an earnest performance. It is a very controlled performance from his part and he owns literally every scene he is in. Also we saw that Deepika and Shahid’s chemistry is ravishing. They sizzle in every scene they are in together. Ranveer Singh as the menacing Khilji is effective in parts, but overall, his egomaniacal act is too loud. ‘Padmaavat’ is certainly not his best work but it offers wide evidence of his development.  The supporting casts have done a fine job. Especially, Jim Sarbh and Aditi Rao Hydari are. A slight regret is that Sarbh should have had a stronger characterization for his background, as his character does not impact the movie in any way. Hydari as Khilji’s wife Mehrunnisa, manages to leave a mark in her limited appearance. Indeed even Aditi Rao Hydari and Jim Sarbh shine in their smaller roles. Bringing stability and prevention to characters are central to the film’s story. Hydari and Sarbh are magnificent in their ability to trench themselves in roles that stand up to the lead actors and still leave their mark. Sarbh, coming off critical praise from ‘Neerja’ is a proper choice as Allauddin’s closest adviser and Bhansali’s depiction of passion between Sarbh and Singh is narrow yet apparent. It is a welcome portrayal of bisexuality in Indian cinema, without stereotypes or any other attention to it besides devotion. It is a brave directorial choice for Bhansali. That I actually wish he had deepened a little further with so many eyes on this film and with Singh at the helm, this aspect could have done more to face the taboos of sexuality. Still, their fractions of chemistry are electric, adding another layer to an already shade the film. This film has a fine production design, costumes and camera work. Its technical finesse on display which makes you realize how much hard work Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his team of technicians has put in making this film to look sharp and intense. But even Sudeep Chatterjee’s interstellar cinematography that carries on all the way through fails to pay off run-of-the-mill storytelling and conceptual disunity. There is no violence of war, no trouble or post injurious stress. Besides that the sub plot of Maharawal’s first wife (Anupriya Goenka) gets suitable repair towards the climax, which is irrelevant. Music by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is good enough, but the songs appear a repeat of his previous work. While ‘Ghoomar’, ‘Ek Dil Ek Jaan’ are visually appealing. Ranveer’s useless dance number ‘Khalibali’ reminds you of Bajirao Mastani’s ‘Malhari’. The makers should know that quality trumps quality when it comes to special effects. The inconsequential 3D and an overly glossy crowd wowing star spectacle make ‘Padmaavat’ look like pure product which manipulates the audience to love it. But the fact is that it lacks the real depth and hence the high of watching a good piece of cinema. ‘Padmaavat’ emphasizes Ratan Sen’s Hindu, Rajput, Kshatriya side in a way that is more captivating that one expects. Indeed as the villain, Allauddin is a Muslim, and much can be derived from the religious oppositions between this mad man and the perceived good of Ratan Sen. However, the film has done justice to the valiant Rajput spirit, and has made of it a story filled with battles that are enthralling because of their strategy, instinct and power. Not one that should be seen as simply Muslim versus Hindu. As a character in any other director’s eye, perhaps Allauddin would have just been another villain-dark, mean that and easy to hate. What Singh’s portrayal brings to Allauddin is depth, madness, and in a true witness to his acting, a deep sense of loss when he is not on screen. From dialogues to body language to express with his eyes, it is clear that how far Singh went into this character to bring him to life. Allauddin is a player, thief, and murderer, and yet you get mysterious glances of man avidity for love. One who sees beauty and attraction in problematic ways and yet crosses lines of heterosexuality. His contradictory nature makes him one of the most compelling villains of modern Indian cinema, brought to excellence by none other than Bhansali’s direction and Singh’s passion. As of late we observed that, Bhansali has moved from the 90’s romance of films like ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ to historical fiction or period dramas and made a genre that is clearly his forte. The creative vision and the lasting impact of pulling off a large budget film with realistic war scenes, stunning sets, intricate costumes, and still, the ability to evoke groundbreaking performances from his lead actors is a witness to Bhansali’s growth as a filmmaker and his obvious artistic abilities.
Deepika Padukone with thePadminis
before performing Jauhar in Padmaavat (2018) 
Padmaavat: A film that is commendable and partly dissolving but not quite exhilarating

‘Padmaavat’ is essentially a love story between Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), a very beautiful princess of Singhal and Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor), the King of Mewar. Their love at first sight quickly results into the King’s second marriage. Meanwhile, a power obsessed Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh), the Turko-Afghan ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, hears about fascinating beauty of Rani Padmavati, who ultimately calls for a war on Chittor to capture her. The subsequent events form the rest of the narrative.

In 1540, Indian Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote an epic poem which named ‘Padmaavat’. He wrote this poem by Awadhi language. The poem describing the story of the historic siege of chittor by Alauddin khilji in 1303.


The Malik Muhammad Jayasi text describes her story as follows:

Padmavati was an exceptionally beautiful princess of the Singhal kingdom. Ratan Sen, the Rajput ruler of Chittor Fort, heard about her beauty from a talking parrot named Hiraman. After an adventurous quest, he won her hand in marriage and brought her to Chittor. After that once upon a time Ratan Sen was captured and imprisoned by Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi. While Ratan Sen was in prison, the king of Kumbhalner Devpal became attached with Padmavati’s beauty and proposed to marry her. Ratan Sen returned to Chittor and entered into a duel with Devpal, in which both died. Alauddin Khilji laid siege to Chittor to obtain Padmavati. Facing a certain defeat against Khilji, before Chittor was captured, she and her companions committed Jauhar thereby defeating Khilji’s aim and protecting their honor. Coupled to the Jauhar the Rajput men died fighting on the battlefield.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a famous and prominent film director in Bollywood film industry. He adapted the Jayasi’s ‘Padmaavat’ poem and directed a historical film named ‘Padmaavat’ in this year. 

Bhansali has explored well-known epic love stories before: Devdas (2002), Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) and Bajirao Mastani (2015). Incidentally, that latter film was also inspired by what some consider historical fiction, and resulted in protests by another community group for misrepresenting historical figures. Fortunately, at the time, a long disclaimer that the movie is inspired by history and does not represent it seemed to do the trick to pacify protests. ‘Padmaavat’ opens with an even lengthier disclaimer, and adds another one but more on the second disclaimer shortly. This film made a history in Bollywood film industry for its highly commercial success.

Generally we should discuss about film content and theme. Every film industry has own filmic style. Sometimes they promote their cultural heritage, social and economic issues. But we also see some industry where they portray their cinema as a tool for cultural aggression. Generally love, emotion, dance, music, melodrama are the general types of Bollywood cinema. They usually use the techniques for their industry. But now-a-days the tendency of the techniques is changed. They count the historical based cinema and get success from them. That is a great example of ‘Padmavat’ film.
Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ is the most ambitious film to emerge from Bollywood’s stable in quite a while. It is based on the legend of Rani Padmavati, a legendary Hindu Rajput queen which I mentioned above.
Bhansali implicitly extols questionable concepts of femininity, loyalty, and spirituality even if ‘Padmaavat’ is more concerned with secular traditions than religious beliefs. It is hard to imagine being able to talk about this film, or its characters symbolic importance without getting into a fight about its inherently retrogressive nature. 

Still, ‘Padmaavat’ seems to exist to show the beauty of Jayasi’s archetypal love story. Through several key scenes, Bhansali emphasizes Alauddin’s secular greed and obsessive character. Singh’s intensely committed performance makes believe in his character’s Iago-like malevolence, even when Singh himself goes so far over the proverbial top that he flies into the stratosphere. Singh’s charisma makes that believe him when he snarls, grimaces, and even dances out Alauddin’s character-defining aggression. Singh’s dancing is especially impressive, as in the scene where Alauddin gathers his men and boasts that he is ‘aloof before heaven’. This set piece is so rousing that it stands out as the best musical number in a film full of strong vocal performances and well-conceived choreography.



Padmaavat: A film that is commendable and partly dissolving but not quite exhilarating ‘Padmaavat’ is essentially a love story between Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), a very beautiful princess of Singhal and Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor), the King of Mewar. Their love at first sight quickly results into the King’s second marriage. Meanwhile, a power obsessed Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh), the Turko-Afghan ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, hears about fascinating beauty of Rani Padmavati, who ultimately calls for a war on Chittor to capture her. The subsequent events form the rest of the narrative. In 1540, Indian Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote an epic poem which named ‘Padmaavat’. He wrote this poem by Awadhi language. The poem describing the story of the historic siege of chittor by Alauddin khilji in 1303. The Malik Muhammad Jayasi text describes her story as follows:  Padmavati was an exceptionally beautiful princess of the Singhal kingdom. Ratan Sen, the Rajput ruler of Chittor Fort, heard about her beauty from a talking parrot named Hiraman. After an adventurous quest, he won her hand in marriage and brought her to Chittor. After that once upon a time Ratan Sen was captured and imprisoned by Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi. While Ratan Sen was in prison, the king of Kumbhalner Devpal became attached with Padmavati’s beauty and proposed to marry her. Ratan Sen returned to Chittor and entered into a duel with Devpal, in which both died. Alauddin Khilji laid siege to Chittor to obtain Padmavati. Facing a certain defeat against Khilji, before Chittor was captured, she and her companions committed Jauhar thereby defeating Khilji’s aim and protecting their honor. Coupled to the Jauhar the Rajput men died fighting on the battlefield.  Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a famous and prominent film director in Bollywood film industry. He adapted the Jayasi’s ‘Padmaavat’ poem and directed a historical film named ‘Padmaavat’ in this year.  Bhansali has explored well-known epic love stories before: Devdas (2002), Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet) and Bajirao Mastani (2015). Incidentally, that latter film was also inspired by what some consider historical fiction, and resulted in protests by another community group for misrepresenting historical figures. Fortunately, at the time, a long disclaimer that the movie is inspired by history and does not represent it seemed to do the trick to pacify protests. ‘Padmaavat’ opens with an even lengthier disclaimer, and adds another one but more on the second disclaimer shortly. This film made a history in Bollywood film industry for its highly commercial success.  Generally we should discuss about film content and theme. Every film industry has own filmic style. Sometimes they promote their cultural heritage, social and economic issues. But we also see some industry where they portray their cinema as a tool for cultural aggression. Generally love, emotion, dance, music, melodrama are the general types of Bollywood cinema. They usually use the techniques for their industry. But now-a-days the tendency of the techniques is changed. They count the historical based cinema and get success from them. That is a great example of ‘Padmavat’ film.  Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ is the most ambitious film to emerge from Bollywood’s stable in quite a while. It is based on the legend of Rani Padmavati, a legendary Hindu Rajput queen which I mentioned above. Bhansali implicitly extols questionable concepts of femininity, loyalty, and spirituality even if ‘Padmaavat’ is more concerned with secular traditions than religious beliefs. It is hard to imagine being able to talk about this film, or its characters symbolic importance without getting into a fight about its inherently retrogressive nature.   Still, ‘Padmaavat’ seems to exist to show the beauty of Jayasi’s archetypal love story. Through several key scenes, Bhansali emphasizes Alauddin’s secular greed and obsessive character. Singh’s intensely committed performance makes believe in his character’s Iago-like malevolence, even when Singh himself goes so far over the proverbial top that he flies into the stratosphere. Singh’s charisma makes that believe him when he snarls, grimaces, and even dances out Alauddin’s character-defining aggression. Singh’s dancing is especially impressive, as in the scene where Alauddin gathers his men and boasts that he is ‘aloof before heaven’. This set piece is so rousing that it stands out as the best musical number in a film full of strong vocal performances and well-conceived choreography. I seldom feel this way about a Bollywood film, but when I am watching ‘Padmaavat’, I felt privileged as a moviegoer. Privileged that such a film has been made about Rajput pride, and privileged that it has been made in our times that only glorifies the Rajputs. But unfortunately, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali fails to give us a compelling cinematic experience which would not rely only on visual appeal of the film. ‘Padmaavat’ is one of the most expensive Indian films ever made. It is also the first Indian film to be released in IMAX 3D.  Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes his most courageous film yet, but sadly the results are not very impressive. The film that is a war epic, love story, and costume drama, all in one, is marshed down by medium performance. Many will be said about the film’s daunting length, and the truth is that it could have been shorter. It’s the kind of film that tries too hard to get your attention in the run-time of almost three hours. However, the second half of the film does get little pacy and you are swept into Rani Padmavati’s political tactics and her personal growing-up journey. The idea of Jauhar seems a bit jarred in today’s times, especially when the entire film builds to that one high moment. Deepika Padukone performs adequately. She looks ethereal like that a compliment that she has heard many times before, especially in Bhansali’s last two movies. Here, she has minimum dialogues to deliver and she lets her expressive eyes do the talking and that only works in her favor. Shahid Kapoor gives an earnest performance. It is a very controlled performance from his part and he owns literally every scene he is in. Also we saw that Deepika and Shahid’s chemistry is ravishing. They sizzle in every scene they are in together. Ranveer Singh as the menacing Khilji is effective in parts, but overall, his egomaniacal act is too loud. ‘Padmaavat’ is certainly not his best work but it offers wide evidence of his development.  The supporting casts have done a fine job. Especially, Jim Sarbh and Aditi Rao Hydari are. A slight regret is that Sarbh should have had a stronger characterization for his background, as his character does not impact the movie in any way. Hydari as Khilji’s wife Mehrunnisa, manages to leave a mark in her limited appearance. Indeed even Aditi Rao Hydari and Jim Sarbh shine in their smaller roles. Bringing stability and prevention to characters are central to the film’s story. Hydari and Sarbh are magnificent in their ability to trench themselves in roles that stand up to the lead actors and still leave their mark. Sarbh, coming off critical praise from ‘Neerja’ is a proper choice as Allauddin’s closest adviser and Bhansali’s depiction of passion between Sarbh and Singh is narrow yet apparent. It is a welcome portrayal of bisexuality in Indian cinema, without stereotypes or any other attention to it besides devotion. It is a brave directorial choice for Bhansali. That I actually wish he had deepened a little further with so many eyes on this film and with Singh at the helm, this aspect could have done more to face the taboos of sexuality. Still, their fractions of chemistry are electric, adding another layer to an already shade the film. This film has a fine production design, costumes and camera work. Its technical finesse on display which makes you realize how much hard work Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his team of technicians has put in making this film to look sharp and intense. But even Sudeep Chatterjee’s interstellar cinematography that carries on all the way through fails to pay off run-of-the-mill storytelling and conceptual disunity. There is no violence of war, no trouble or post injurious stress. Besides that the sub plot of Maharawal’s first wife (Anupriya Goenka) gets suitable repair towards the climax, which is irrelevant. Music by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is good enough, but the songs appear a repeat of his previous work. While ‘Ghoomar’, ‘Ek Dil Ek Jaan’ are visually appealing. Ranveer’s useless dance number ‘Khalibali’ reminds you of Bajirao Mastani’s ‘Malhari’. The makers should know that quality trumps quality when it comes to special effects. The inconsequential 3D and an overly glossy crowd wowing star spectacle make ‘Padmaavat’ look like pure product which manipulates the audience to love it. But the fact is that it lacks the real depth and hence the high of watching a good piece of cinema. ‘Padmaavat’ emphasizes Ratan Sen’s Hindu, Rajput, Kshatriya side in a way that is more captivating that one expects. Indeed as the villain, Allauddin is a Muslim, and much can be derived from the religious oppositions between this mad man and the perceived good of Ratan Sen. However, the film has done justice to the valiant Rajput spirit, and has made of it a story filled with battles that are enthralling because of their strategy, instinct and power. Not one that should be seen as simply Muslim versus Hindu. As a character in any other director’s eye, perhaps Allauddin would have just been another villain-dark, mean that and easy to hate. What Singh’s portrayal brings to Allauddin is depth, madness, and in a true witness to his acting, a deep sense of loss when he is not on screen. From dialogues to body language to express with his eyes, it is clear that how far Singh went into this character to bring him to life. Allauddin is a player, thief, and murderer, and yet you get mysterious glances of man avidity for love. One who sees beauty and attraction in problematic ways and yet crosses lines of heterosexuality. His contradictory nature makes him one of the most compelling villains of modern Indian cinema, brought to excellence by none other than Bhansali’s direction and Singh’s passion. As of late we observed that, Bhansali has moved from the 90’s romance of films like ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ to historical fiction or period dramas and made a genre that is clearly his forte. The creative vision and the lasting impact of pulling off a large budget film with realistic war scenes, stunning sets, intricate costumes, and still, the ability to evoke groundbreaking performances from his lead actors is a witness to Bhansali’s growth as a filmmaker and his obvious artistic abilities.
Padmaavat (2018) Indian Film Poster

I seldom feel this way about a Bollywood film, but when I am watching ‘Padmaavat’, I felt privileged as a moviegoer. Privileged that such a film has been made about Rajput pride, and privileged that it has been made in our times that only glorifies the Rajputs. But unfortunately, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali fails to give us a compelling cinematic experience which would not rely only on visual appeal of the film.

‘Padmaavat’ is one of the most expensive Indian films ever made. It is also the first Indian film to be released in IMAX 3D.


Sanjay Leela Bhansali makes his most courageous film yet, but sadly the results are not very impressive. The film that is a war epic, love story, and costume drama, all in one, is marshed down by medium performance. Many will be said about the film’s daunting length, and the truth is that it could have been shorter. It’s the kind of film that tries too hard to get your attention in the run-time of almost three hours. However, the second half of the film does get little pacy and you are swept into Rani Padmavati’s political tactics and her personal growing-up journey. The idea of Jauhar seems a bit jarred in today’s times, especially when the entire film builds to that one high moment.


Deepika Padukone performs adequately. She looks ethereal like that a compliment that she has heard many times before, especially in Bhansali’s last two movies. Here, she has minimum dialogues to deliver and she lets her expressive eyes do the talking and that only works in her favor. Shahid Kapoor gives an earnest performance. It is a very controlled performance from his part and he owns literally every scene he is in. Also we saw that Deepika and Shahid’s chemistry is ravishing. They sizzle in every scene they are in together. Ranveer Singh as the menacing Khilji is effective in parts, but overall, his egomaniacal act is too loud. ‘Padmaavat’ is certainly not his best work but it offers wide evidence of his development.


The supporting casts have done a fine job. Especially, Jim Sarbh and Aditi Rao Hydari are. A slight regret is that Sarbh should have had a stronger characterization for his background, as his character does not impact the movie in any way. Hydari as Khilji’s wife Mehrunnisa, manages to leave a mark in her limited appearance.

Indeed even Aditi Rao Hydari and Jim Sarbh shine in their smaller roles. Bringing stability and prevention to characters are central to the film’s story. Hydari and Sarbh are magnificent in their ability to trench themselves in roles that stand up to the lead actors and still leave their mark.

Sarbh, coming off critical praise from ‘Neerja’ is a proper choice as Allauddin’s closest adviser and Bhansali’s depiction of passion between Sarbh and Singh is narrow yet apparent. It is a welcome portrayal of bisexuality in Indian cinema, without stereotypes or any other attention to it besides devotion. It is a brave directorial choice for Bhansali. That I actually wish he had deepened a little further with so many eyes on this film and with Singh at the helm, this aspect could have done more to face the taboos of sexuality. Still, their fractions of chemistry are electric, adding another layer to an already shade the film.

This film has a fine production design, costumes and camera work. Its technical finesse on display which makes you realize how much hard work Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his team of technicians has put in making this film to look sharp and intense. But even Sudeep Chatterjee’s interstellar cinematography that carries on all the way through fails to pay off run-of-the-mill storytelling and conceptual disunity. There is no violence of war, no trouble or post injurious stress. Besides that the sub plot of Maharawal’s first wife (Anupriya Goenka) gets suitable repair towards the climax, which is irrelevant.

Music by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is good enough, but the songs appear a repeat of his previous work. While ‘Ghoomar’, ‘Ek Dil Ek Jaan’ are visually appealing. Ranveer’s useless dance number ‘Khalibali’ reminds you of Bajirao Mastani’s ‘Malhari’.


The makers should know that quality trumps quality when it comes to special effects. The inconsequential 3D and an overly glossy crowd wowing star spectacle make ‘Padmaavat’ look like pure product which manipulates the audience to love it. But the fact is that it lacks the real depth and hence the high of watching a good piece of cinema.


‘Padmaavat’ emphasizes Ratan Sen’s Hindu, Rajput, Kshatriya side in a way that is more captivating that one expects. Indeed as the villain, Allauddin is a Muslim, and much can be derived from the religious oppositions between this mad man and the perceived good of Ratan Sen. However, the film has done justice to the valiant Rajput spirit, and has made of it a story filled with battles that are enthralling because of their strategy, instinct and power. Not one that should be seen as simply Muslim versus Hindu.

As a character in any other director’s eye, perhaps Allauddin would have just been another villain-dark, mean that and easy to hate. What Singh’s portrayal brings to Allauddin is depth, madness, and in a true witness to his acting, a deep sense of loss when he is not on screen. From dialogues to body language to express with his eyes, it is clear that how far Singh went into this character to bring him to life.

Allauddin is a player, thief, and murderer, and yet you get mysterious glances of man avidity for love. One who sees beauty and attraction in problematic ways and yet crosses lines of heterosexuality. His contradictory nature makes him one of the most compelling villains of modern Indian cinema, brought to excellence by none other than Bhansali’s direction and Singh’s passion.


As of late we observed that, Bhansali has moved from the 90’s romance of films like ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ to historical fiction or period dramas and made a genre that is clearly his forte. The creative vision and the lasting impact of pulling off a large budget film with realistic war scenes, stunning sets, intricate costumes, and still, the ability to evoke groundbreaking performances from his lead actors is a witness to Bhansali’s growth as a filmmaker and his obvious artistic abilities.

A Review by Md. Tanjir Alam 



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