Padmaavat movie review: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film does what Karni Sena wanted to do (2019)

Based on a Sufi poem of the same name written in 1540 by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has added his own flair and interpretation to ‘Padmaavat’, giving it a fairy-tale sheen. This makes all the controversy pointless, and pale in comparison to the spectacle that unfolds. Bhansali reunites with two of his favourite leads in recent times – Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, but adds Shahid Kapoor to complete this trio of commendable acting talent.

Shahid is steadfast and unflappable as Maharawal Ratan Singh – the ruler of Mewar, brimming with Rajput pride. He brings a regal aura to the character that warrants him winning the confidence and loyalty of the Mewar kingdom and more importantly, Rani Padmavati’s heart. Deepika is radiant as the Rajput Queen whose beauty, brains and valour moves the entire plot along once Alauddin Khilji becomes obsessed with her.

Let’s talk about the film now. How much do you know about Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh)? To most, he was a tyrant, cynical ruler who wanted to win the Rajputana to become India’s most powerful king. Also, that he had a slave-cum-companion Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh) and some quirks that probably made him an acceptable leader for the Afghans who were attracted to India’s wealth.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali opens his most spectacular film, in fact one of Bollywood’s glossiest till date, with Jalaluddin Khilji (Raza Murad) witnessing his young nephew’s idiosyncrasies. Alauddin is asked to bring ostrich’s hair, instead he brings a chain-cuffed ostrich. He dances with a mad abandon and shows scant respect for rules and women, including his new wife Mehrunissa (Aditi Rao Hydari).

It is but obvious that he would want to see Rani Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) after listening to a dejected priest Raghav Chetan wax eloquent about her beauty, comparing it to moon, ocean and solace. Padmavati, the princess of Singhal, is married to Rawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) who lives by the Rajput code of ethics. How do we know? Because he keeps repeating them throughout the film. Needless to say that ‘Rajput’ is most oft-used word in the 163-minute film.

The grand sets and better-than-average CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) captures the attention in the beginning. The slow pace of the film gives the audience time to adjust to the milieu. Ranveer Singh hypnotises you — his body language, terrifying eyes and passionate walk screams of the preparation that has gone into the role.

Alauddin Khilji is also the best written role in the film. The scenes between Khilji and Kafur are dark, strange and layered. Bhansali leaves doubts in your mind about their characters despite telling you about the nature of their friendship. Jim Sarbh, with his accent and peculiar mannerism, shows us the different facets of human bonding. In one of the scenes, he is caressing Khilji’s back with a fan made of peacock feathers, and demonstrates how hard it is to decipher power play in this master-slave relationship.

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