And it’s finally here.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s third film- briefly a part of literature, set in a periodic western part of India and starring Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone that succeeds Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani – has hit the theatres after getting hit by multiple controversies and delays. It’s time now to forget all the drama surrounding the film and focus on the drama that the film carries.
The entire plot of Padmaavat can be summarized in one line. It is all about Alauddin Khilji’s obsession for a woman he never saw, and the said woman sacrificing herself to maintain her dignity and self-respect.
What you get in the 2 hours 45 minutes runtime is a stunning, spectacular, dazzling and sumptuous telling of a story that, tragically, lacks proper meat.
I am a huge fan of Bhansali’s works. His films are operatic and magnificent with characters that are epic and well-edged, who deal with conflicts that are all too familiar. His last film Bajirao Mastani brought three historical characters and put them in a love triangle which had to deal with both internal and external hurdles. This made up for a compelling story which was surrounded by a distinct visual poetry.
The problem with Padmaavat is that the conflicts aren’t convincing enough and the leads – Ratan played by Shahid Kapoor and Padmavati played by Deepika Padukone, never got the chance to fully develop as characters. We were reminded at every instant about the Rajput valour and dignity, instead of actually showing instances of their traits. There are numerous sequences of intimacy between them which contributed to an overlong runtime instead of exploring their chemistry. The music that surrounds it, except for one or two, is also underwhelming.
But just as you’d think of Padmaavat being on the verge of a huge misfire, bam enters SLB’s trump card : Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji. Alauddin is not only the best thing about the film, but he is easily one of the best antagonists seen in recent times. Ranveer plays Khilji with an unmistakable menace, speaking with a distinct voice that would instantly make you stop comparing him with Bajirao, and gives a performance worth a thousand lauds. This guy is beyond terrific.
Majority of the first half is dedicated to Khilji, and while he still had a few unnecessary scenes, we are given enough time to understand the evilness within him.
Post interval, Khilji fizzles out and Padmavati gets to shine. But the trouble with understanding the conflicts still continues and hence the tragic climax losses the impact it should have had.
It’s hard to not recommend Padmaavat, considering the visuals are just too stunning to miss out. You can see the efforts invested in every frame and the way effects are handled with zero tackiness. We are, after all, in the post-Baahubali era.
But again, the story would end up asking for more. A little shorter runtime and a huge work on the screenplay would have made Padmaavat fill the gaps and reach its potential.
For now, go in for the big screen showbiz, catch it on the best format possible (IMAX, 3D, Dolby Atmos) but just lower your expectations a bit.
Rating : 3/5