Padmaavat Movie Review: It Is A Breathtaking Homage To The Valour Of The Rajputs!

Movie Review: Padmaavat

Starring: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Adito Rao, Jim Serbh

Directed by: Sanjay Leela  Bhansali

Rating: *****(5 stars)

For my money, there  is no contemporary filmmaker with the vision and velocity of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The man makes every frame in his cinema seem like a wondrous timeless work of art.

 As  in  all his films there are visuals in Padmaavat that will be remembered for all times to come. And this is as opportune a time as any to salute Bhansali’s cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee who is a magician,a  visionary par excellence who can put on screen images that poets and painters put into their creations when at the acme of inspiration.

Almost every moment in the story that  Bhansali tells of the royal Queen Padmavati and the Islamic invader who lusts after her,  is pure magic. The mesmerizing mise en scene hooks you from the word go when in a spellbinding introduction, the Queen on a hunting trip manages  to wound Raja Ratan Singh , in more than one. Love–stuck and besotted Shahid Kapoor’s Ratan Singh makes  it very clear  that he would do anything in his power to protect the beauty  and sanctity  of the woman he  falls in love with and marries.

Palace intrigue is always a high-point in Bhansali’s operatic dramas. In Bajirao Mastani we saw Deepika Padukone as the royal queen who ends up being the second wife of a neighbouring empire. A similar fate awaits Deepika in  Padmaavat. While the conflict between the two wives in Bajirao Mastani was conspicuously contoured, in PadmaavatDeepika’s Padmavati barely manages to interact with her husband’s first wife(played by Anupriya Goenka).

It is Padmaavati’s conflict with her invader and intended violator Allauddin Khilji which occupies  center stage  in this rigorous drama of resonant historicity. On many occasions, the historical facts are tampered with for the sake of edifying the essential conflict between the  Queen and her invader. Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh bring an exquisite operatic duet-like feeling to their parts.Though they sing  the same song from different scales,they are like the earth and sky never destined to meet .

  Bhansali imparts a portentous  potency to their  conflict .Without coming face-to-face the two actors convey an almost-unbearable dramatic tension. The climax with all of  the Rani’s  female  entourage fighting  off the advances of Khilji by hurling hot coal bricks on him ,is  a reverberant  homage to Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala.

Remember Naseeruddin Shah’s mustache-twirling subedaar  in Mehta’s film lusting after the  feisty Sonbai(Smita Patil)?  Bhansali’s Padmavati echores Sonbai with heartening whoops  of  joy. Indeed this is a film that pays a homage to the greatest  filmmakers of the country RajKapoor and K Asif and succeeds in going beyond the vision of  these two filmmakers.

 The sequences at the end of the film featuring Deepika Padukone and  a bevy of women all wearing flaming-red , will stay with you for a  very long time.I am afraid Shahid Kapoor as Padmavati’s husband  seems  a little shaky in his attempts to counter Ranveer’s psychotic Khilji with regal restraint. Shahid internalizes his character’s struggles to an extent where he looks bored at times.

 But there is no dearth of bravura acting in Padmaavat. While Ranveer and Deepika as antagonists rip the screen part, two other actors Jim Serbh and Aditi Rao shine in smaller roles bringing to their part as Khilji’s manipulative  toy-boy and idealistc wife, a strong sense of  a back-history that belies the length of their roles.

Padmaavat is  a work of illimitable splendor. The 3D format seems quite an unnecessary grandeur-enhancement device. When we  already have  so much to savour and imbibe why hanker for  more? This is a film so inured in irradiance and so steeped in splendor you will come away from  the experience exhilarated and satiated.

This is  a movie so epic in proportion it stands tall among the great  films of all time about love and war  . In Bhansali, we have  our own David Lean.Padmavati proves it.

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