Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Jim Sarbh, Aditi Rao Hydari
When Sanjay Leela Bhansali comes up with a film, he always brings in sheer excitement with his projects as the guy has delivered so many artistic and cinematic stories over the years. With a pure intention of showing the bravery of Rajputs and Queen Padmavati, Bhansali made Padmaavat and I would say, it’s a decent film to watch. However, I was not as satisfied with it as I was hoping for. The overall experience falls short due to the lack of thrill and intensity in many aspects.
Padmaavat is a story of Queen Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) who is married to Mewar’s Rajput king Rawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor). The Turko-Afghan king Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) is made to believe that by winning over Padmavati, he can rule the whole empire. So, he calls on the attack on Chittor. But, the Rajputs and Queen Padmavati will be standing tall to fight Khilji’s evil ambitions.
The movie begins with the introduction of Khilji who is cunning and knows no loyalty when he is on his mission to conquer whatever he desires. This sets a good foundation for his character. Then, Bhansali shows us two protagonists, Ratan Singh and Padmavati. They fall in love with each other when Ratan Singh visits her kingdom. There are hardly two or three scenes in which this romance is shown which doesn’t stick well in mind. And once Padmavati gets married to Ratan Singh, there are not many enjoyable moments between the two. Half of the time, Bhansali directs her in such a way that Deepika looks rigid in her body language and there are never ending stares between Shahid and Deepika. It really makes the characters dull and I just wanted the narrative to switch to Khilji and his mischievous plans.
The film becomes interesting when Khilji and Ratan Singh have a talk. The energetic and dominating Khilji and a bravely calm Ratan Singh are extremely gripping to watch. The writing is top notch during this and Bhansali does great in his storytelling. Lots of things happen post that meeting and the director takes his time with all of those. I enjoy lengthy run time with such periodic stories as length is a necessity to tell such tales. However, Padmaavat consumes lots of time in songs and Queen Padmavati giving long speeches so that run time seriously bores you out.
The character development of Alauddin Khilji is the best thing of Padmaavat. His menacing looks and that unstable behaviour perfectly portray the negative image of the role. I also liked Rawal Ratan Singh’s role which was initially a bit dull. But, as the war reaches Mewar’s gates, his character becomes more and more glorious and powerful. The battle face-off between Ratan Singh and Khijli is good. The importance of having honorary morals which make you respectable as Rajput is elegantly told in the movie. I was expecting more from Bhansali with respect to Padmavati’s role. For the first half, she doesn’t do much other than being seen in songs and giving long stares with less dialogues. It was sluggish to watch those scenes. This is also the major reason why Padmaavat doesn’t reach the high level of cinematic satisfaction.
Padmaavat has less fights and battles and more talks about them. Although that might be the intention of the story, it seemed a bit stretched to see everyone running to and fro between Mewar and Delhi Sultanate. You can understand the flow of the film but it doesn’t spark the thrill you expect from such movies.
However, the production design does a fine job in making the sets look authentic. You really feel in that period when you see the lavish and grand Mewar kingdom. The long spread sand land, big halls with diyas lighting up the premise; costumes of characters are pure and perfect. Although songs were more than necessary in the movie, the background music is finely crafted and editing was smooth,; it gave a natural continuity to the film.
Ranveer Singh has once again proved his worth as an actor. After Bajirao Mastani, he has certainly raised his bar and he keeps the momentum going with Padmaavat. The excellent dialogue delivery as Khilji who is unstoppable in his quest and those eyes do the major work of showing that cunningness in his character. Shahid Kapoor is an honest actor and I loved how he delivers a calm but brave persona of Rajput. At one end of screen, Ranveer Singh as Khilji is pretty dominating and dynamic in his talks and at other end, Shahid Kapoor holds impressively as Ratan Singh with his valor and Rajput values. Their conversation is what made Padmaavat a worthy watch. Deepika Padukone was decent but as I said, most of the time her body language was rigid so it’s hard to get connected with her character. She looks beautiful in those royal attire and jewelleries but that’s not enough. Jim Sarbh was not really a good choice for that servant role. He has a tough personality which is not suitable for that particular character.
So to summarize, Sanjay Leela’s Bhansali’s Padmaavat is a fair watch if you want to witness a story of bravery of Rajputs, determination and beauty of Queen Padmaavati. But, the movie is not a completely engaging affair.