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Opinion: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat is a Lavish Spectacle and we need to be Proud of it.
So, finally, I saw Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic Padmaavat as it had a deferred release in my city and I am happy, very happy with the product. Let’s begin with the protests, well, first things first, it is based on a poem of the same name written by the famous Sufi poet, Malik Muhammad Jayasi way back in the 15th century and on the very first page he wrote that it was a piece of fiction though he used names of some real rulers and people, it was nothing more than the presentation of history through his eyes of imagination and Sanjay Leela Bhansali has all the right to present his version as an artist. Now, why so much of chaos for something which happened so many years back and to top it, which was a fiction and, to be honest history is something which is written by those in power as per their convenience since time immemorial. Even today our government is continuously changing it in the textbooks as per their wish to fulfill the agendas they have.
There’s a scene in the film also where Bhansali shows how Kings made writers and historians, to write forcefully what they wanted and I want to tell that every king did that irrespective of their religion, caste or creed. in short, History is a perfect rumor, so why waste time over it obsessively? Yes, I doubt these Karni Sena protesters have ever read a single textbook nicely and yet they call themselves the Masters of history, come on, this is too much. The fact is only 3-4% of our country’s population watch movies in the theaters, so protest or no protest we are not going to watch any film, our nation is poor my friend. No protest can stop those 97% people to watch the film at their homes under the quilt by downloading it from torrent. And just imagine how free these Karni Sena people are that they waste the precious time of their lives vandalizing public properties and threatening creative people, get a life and fuck off. Now, moving back to the movie, I need to congratulate the makers for making such a beautiful piece of cinema under trying circumstances, it is grand, lavish spectacle which has the feel of bedtime folk stories told by our Grandmothers when we were kids, Where the good king fought with bad king and in the end the queen wins the heart. For watching films also we need common sense and unfortunately we as a country lack that, that’s why I want to beg everyone, please don’t try to resonate what you see on screen with the contemporary lives of our country, do not connect it with feminism, pride or honor of any particular community or history, this movie is just big screen cinematic celebration of storytelling, treat it as a tale only. Films are for entertainment and Padmaavat has it in bulk, why we always want a message, why can’t we just enjoy good, well-made cinema. When we see a Troy starring Brad Pitt we are not watching it for the message, come on, we just enjoy the magic of cinema and the vision but in India, it is tough, as I already said we lack the basic common sense. You need flying heroes and loud Raj Matas to please the crowd and then they will not question you. And I will also condemn the climax where they show Jauhar as a glory for women if I relate it to the circumstances of today but I took it as the part of a particular folk story and enjoyed the way they presented the scene, which somehow made me remember Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala. Content wise I liked Bhansali’s last film Bajirao Mastani more but technically Padmaavat is far superior. The script is not that profound but the screenplay, the grandeur, the photography, the art direction, the vision and the performances make up for that.
Full marks to lead players in the film, Ranveer Singh yet again with Bhansali goes one step further as an actor, he is fantabulous as savage king Khilji, definitely, he is the highlight of the film. He has a brooding depth in his eyes throughout the film, he lifts even the dull moments of the film, for example, his song with in-form Jim Sarbh who plays Malik Kafur is oddly placed and stretches the film yet you don’t feel it because of Ranveer. This man is on the right track. Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati delivers a superb performance, her eyes, her body language, and dances are pitch perfect though I felt she could have worked better on her dialogue delivery which has the same feel of her previous costume dramas, it is just a thought, and there’s nothing wrong in it, I just wanted a little change. Shahid Kapoor as Raja Ratan Singh is at his best, hats off to him for accepting a role which could have been lost under the storm of Khilji’s character but he stood his own like a fort and his performance has made this film even more strong. His chemistry with Deepika is amazing, the base of their romance has not been established well but the way they looked each other is enough to make us believe that they are in love and can go any length to be together.
All the face-off scenes of Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor are pure gold, special mention of the final battle scene between them, that is at par with any big-budget Hollywood period film. Let’s talk about the real diamond of the film, cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee, he made the film into a painting canvas with the help Amit Roy and Subrata Chakraborty’s wonderful art direction. But your cinematographer is as good as the vision of the director, and that’s why all credit must go to the ace helmer Bhansali, his direction and his imagination is praiseworthy. He made even small characters come alive, be it Jim Sarbh who is in great form which I already mentioned or Aditi Rao Hydari as Mehrunisa, she emotes through her eyes. Aayam Mehta as Purohit Raghav Chetan is very convincing too. All in all the film is a celebration of big-screen cinema experience and after a long time, many frames of the film kept lingering in my mind even after a day I finished watching it. I’ll go with 3.9 stars, go and enjoy the grand folk tale, entertain yourself and be proud of it.