Padmaavat is an epic poem written by the Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi in the year 1540, more than 200 years after Alauddin Khilji’s invasion against the king of Chittor. Historians have no account of a Queen Padmavati bewitching Khilji and refer to her story as an allegory. Even the great wordsmith Amir Khusrau, who was a courtier of Khilji, does not mention any Queen. While the movie itself takes few creative liberties for cinematic effects, the poem is inane and appears to be a musing of a poet who gave flight to his imagination.
Comedian Varun Grover explains the poem Padmavat in his own inimitable style in this video.
Keeping history aside, the present ruckus created by the Karni Sena in the name of defending the honour of their Queen from being commercially used by a movie maker is outright vacuous. I go for movies as a fan, as a movie reviewer, but this one time I also wore another hat, as a fact finder. Not one frame of the movie showed the Rajput clan in bad light. In fact, Khilji seemed to have been vilified a bit more than required. In the movie, Ranveer Singh portrays the character as a barbarian who enjoyed inflicting pain and ravaging forts. On the contrary, historian Rana Safvi believes that Khilji was anything but savage. Under his rule the dynasty grew and he took inspiration from the Persian rulers for uplift of his subjects. Om Puri’s enactment of the Muslim Ruler in Bharat Ek Khoj is more historically accurate.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali has created a movie with more attention to details in the production design and cinematography department than being historically accurate or engaging the audience through a tight script. The entire script feels more like an one-upmanship between two men who have clearly different ideologies. The sets are gigantic and the experience of watching this movie in 3D makes you feel positive about the direction the industry is going. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a painter in a director’s role. His vision of each scene and the grandiose feel to them is evident. The colours used to show the various locales and in dressing his female protagonists are almost palpable. In terms of character definition and scope, Ranveer Singh shines more than the other two leads. He plays eccentric characters with such energy and conviction that even if he is dancing in the middle of a period movie, the audience admires instead of feeling a bit odd. We all have read about how the preparation process took a toll on him mentally and it shows in his emphatic show on screen. He owns every scene he is in, be it with his physicality or even a subtle yet cunning eyebrow lift.
Deepika plays Padmavati with a lot of poise. She looks ethereal in the heavy dresses and jewellery, yet exuding confidence unseen in those days from a queen. The way her character is written by Bhansali only makes the Karni Sena look all the more imprudent and with ulterior motives. Bhansali uses varying version of the score by Sanchit Balhara to signify various moods in the storyline. The use of the score during the ‘Jauhar’ scene is particularly pulsating. The steely resolve of Padmavati to self immolate as the scene plays in slow motion makes the audience feel for the character and that one scene makes up for a slightly inconsistent character graph of Padmavati. Shahid Kapoor is wooden for most parts, also, the dialogues given to him seem to be composed of variants of few keywords like honor, ideology and respect.
The movie had to fight it’s way to the box office and in hindsight the entire furore seems to be fallacious and not required. The movie isn’t a marvel and it will go out of public consciousness in a few weeks. But the importance of this movie lies in the questions it has raised about freedom of expression of one’s art. A serious introspection needs to be done and government entities need to reassure the public that creativity is not held captive by few unscrupulous groups with vested interests.
gobblpoint: A 3-D period movie from Bollywood by Sanjay Leela Bhansali deserves to be seen on the big screen.
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of this film and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.