Deepika, Shahid & Ranveer Shine in SLB UniverseCan you be a film buff and not see ‘Padmaavat’? Like thousands, I too wound my way to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s saga starring the luminaries Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh. I donned 3-D glasses and entered into the surreal, far-off world of medieval India which has been brought kicking and shouting into the 2018 conflicted world of Karni Sena and today’s India.
Padmaavat – The Movie
Real Life Drama Behind PadmaavatThe film has drama but nothing like the real-life drama that has punctuated the gestation and birth of ‘Padmavaat’ – and the chaos continues even today. It’s no laughing matter when there are death threats against the filmmaker and a million dollars is put out for the head of the leading lady. Just before the movie was released, Rajasthani women offered to self-immolate. “They are showing our history incorrectly. They have not given a religious touch to it — they have given a glamorous touch to it,” said Manjushri Shaktawat, an organizer. “If they are showing such disrespect to Padmini, who sacrificed so much and died, how will they treat Rajput women in the future? The only weapon we have is to kill ourselves and finish it off.”
The latest twist is the banning of the film in Malaysia due to its negative portrayal of a Muslim king. “He is portrayed as a sultan who is arrogant, cruel, inhumane, devious with all kinds of trickery, unreliable and who does not fully practice Islamic teachings,” the ministry said in a statement, according to The Straits Times.
Going to ‘Padmaavat’ sounds almost like serious business, like being part of an international incident rather than an afternoon at the movies!
Reasons for Padmaavat’s Box-Office Success
Yet a lot of hard work and stress went into the final release, after all the death threats and destruction. The suspenseful wait, however, has been worth it and movie-goers have shown their support by rooting for the film at the box-office. In fact, ‘Padmaavat’ has just broken the record for the all-time biggest opening weekend for any Bollywood film in North America grossing $4.9 million over the four-day Thursday-to-Sunday span. To keep up with the huge interest, it is playing in 326 cinemas across the United States and Canada in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D formats.
The Power of Sanjay Leela Bhansali in PadmaavatI relished every minute of ‘Padmaavat’ – and I think you will too. It is a piece of exquisite art, and you can just sit back and enjoy it. After all, there is just so much to digest and on just so many different levels. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is the master craftsman, the jeweler without compare when it comes to dreaming, layering and the setting of gems. Whether it’s the awe-aspiring stone-faced beauty of the Chittorgarh fort-kingdom, the rising dust storms on the battlefield, or the color-drenched poetry of Rajput women bedecked in red calmly heading into the orange flames of Jauhar – he has no match.
Bhansali is fortunate in his cast for they are the ones who give this canvas life. Ranveer Singh is just mesmerizing – when he is on the screen your eyes are glued to him and his shenanigans. Ranveer gets into the skin of Sultan Allauddin Khilji – depraved, cruel and maniacal with no redeeming factors. The only chink in his armor is his greed, his passion to possess the unpossessible, the most beautiful – and that at least seems to give him a slightly human dimension. I read somewhere that Ranveer had to go through almost a psychological debriefing and I can understand that – the character is remorseless and inhuman.
Ranveer Singh in KhalibaliDeepika has the goddess-like beauty, uni-eyebrow and all, to launch this massive epic that ends in smoke, fire and ashes. She is one of our finest actors and she is pitch perfect and plays the Rajput queen with grace, strength and intelligence. One minor characteristic which did not seem to go with her wise and compassionate image was her carefree shooting of gazelles in the forest – I understand it was a device to further the plot where she ends up injuring the king and furthering the romantic story, but Padmavati didn’t seem like someone who would take a life for pleasure.
I also found it strange that someone as woman-oriented and ethical as Padmavati did not feel uncomfortable that the Raja was marrying her in spite of having a wife and with no thought for her feelings. Men could certainly get away with just about anything, even in the dark ages! Well, maybe that was all acceptable in the good old medieval times – just as was jauhar – the mass self-immolation by fire of hundreds of women when their men were killed on the battlefield. Although that scene has been criticized by some feminists as ‘glorifying’ jauhar I felt it was actually very much a part of the rhythms of a movie about medieval times and completely in keeping with the Sanjay Leela Bhansali tapestry: everything is grand and painfully beautiful – even death by fire. These were the beliefs and rituals of the past in keeping with vanished times and are no longer acceptable. Yet it fits a tale of 1303 AD and it’s no use trying to put our 21st century sentiments and judgments on it.
Shahid Kapoor and Deepika Padukone in PadmaavatI’m not sure if I was completely sold on Shahid Kapoor’s performance as Maharawal Ratan Singh– I had been absolutely awed by him in ‘Haider’ but here I found myself almost pining for an older, take-charge kind of guy like Ajay Devgun or Amir Khan – idealistic, noble yet able to showcase the Rajput grit even in tragedy. While Shahid and Deepika, both stunners, had wonderful chemistry together, Shahid seemed just too innocent and nice, too principled and you couldn’t help suspecting that the Queen would have been a better strategist than her husband! Shahid’s role probably needed stronger scripting and a bit of street-smarts.
‘Padmaavat’ keeps you transfixed with the spectacle, the visuals and the physical beauty but the tragic love story never hits you in the gut. One thing is certain – we will be talking for a long time about the magnificent world Sanjay Leela Bhansali created – the visuals, the aching music, the erotic beauty of Deepika and Shahid, and of course Ranveer’s over-the-top Allaudin Khilji. He might just start invading our nightmares – and that’s probably the highest compliment to him!
What did you think of the movie? Do share your mini reviews and thoughts in the comment section!
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