Mesmerizing and captivating.
Only two words that came to my mind as the end scroll started scrolling after a few seconds of silence–in memoirs of the sacrifice by Rani and other women, it seems.
After a decade in the development phase, casting, and recasting, plus, a year of protests for sake of saving our ideology Padmaavat (rechristened from Padmavati) had released last Thursday at last, and I watched to-evening.
I’ll not delve into the story ’cause it has been written and rewritten and told and retold for last one year in innumerable ways in different discussions, reviews, essays, and debates. So we all know the basic structure of the story.
The first thing that everyone looks for any historical cinema on a grand scale like this are the sets that have been designed. From the era of Mughal-e-Azaam to Jodhaa Akbar, the audiences have always liked the grand sets designed for the palaces and its surroundings. And this time it is the director who is also a lookout for his sets are infused with grandeur, colors, and experiment of lights.
Padmavaat mainly cover mostly three sets–interior and exterior of the fort of Chitore, interior and few exterior portion of Khilji’s palace in Delhi and the tent of Alauddin Khilji. The light had been experimented with in all these three sets. Like for the Chitore Fort, the turn of the day was captured in a detailed way while when it comes to Delhi it was mostly darkness, a silhouette gray ashed tone was used. The tents were mostly dark with blue-tinted black making some scenes darkest and haziest one.
The set, but, that deserves special mention is Singhal. Though it might be created through CGI mostly, the detailing that was infused in those few ten or fifteen minutes needs more than praise.
After the sets, the aspect that makes Bhansali’s movie a must-watch is it casting. This movie has been recast more than one time. I think if Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had been cast as Rani Padmavati then we could get a beautiful queen, but, that doesn’t mean Deepika Padukone hasn’t looked beautiful or couldn’t justify the look. She had done it through her acting which is growing stronger by days. Though at some point it seems it was Leela from Goliyon Ka Raasleela Ram-Leela and sometimes it seems Mastani from Bajirao Mastani, Padukone still shines as the Rani who is not only the epitome of the beauty of a woman but, also of the self-respect and valor that every Indian woman carry inside them, and to destroy the devil there is no one as par the valor as them.
Everyone speaking of him. Ranveer Singh. He had played the antagonist Alauddin Khilji in the most gruesome ways one can think of. As I had said before, Khilji can be thought of an epitome of the lust of a man. The way he gives shape to this sin of a man through his performance it’s a treat to see. At the climax, when he went out his tent to see the arrival of the Rani Padmavati declining the advice of Malik Kafur that was the finest moment of his performance in the movie. How far lust can take you, he shows that and also symbolizes through his act. In the coming time, his this act will be mentioned whenever there’ll be a talk of antagonist in the Indian cinema history, and that too with due hated respect. And also he proves that now he is one of the finest versatile actors the Indian cinema has at the moment.
No one or few mentioning of him. Shahid Kapoor. Whenever he gets a chance he proves what he can do. As Ratan Singh, he develops the character through the progress of the movie. In the Singhal, he was a king who flirts with the princess as a young prince would do. After few scenes, when Khilji attacks his kingdom he was an angry serious king. At the end, he was the epitome of the bravery and principal of Rajput. The scenes between his character of Ratan Singh and of Alauddin Khilji are mention-deserving one. His silent, controlled-gentle-adamant act against the loud and boasting adamancy of Ranveer as Khilji creates not only ripples but also creates the best dual between the two of the finest actors of this time.
Another man who deserves mention is Jim Sarbh as Malik Kafur. His entry scene, the removal of the veil, is one of the best introduction scenes of a character and that too supporting I have seen in recent times. Somewhere, I had read or heard devil look beautiful and pure, and in that mentioned scene he just look that and Bhansali had captured that moment wonderfully. Then in the whole of the movie the way he carries that accent of his character balancing with the illicit love for Sultan, that’s a surprising one. And in coming days he’ll, one can hope, grow more devil by the act. His act in this movie completed the devilness the character of Khilji carried and executed by Ranveer in the bestest way.
The other supporting act by small-known actors and seasonal actors like Aditi Rao Hydari make this based-on-epic a delightful movie to watch.
After Devdas, this movie of Bhansali will receive the accolade for the background score. In Devdas, the whipping sound with Paro calling the name of Devdas as Devda is still considered one of the best background scores in Indian cinema. The humming sound that we had heard in the trailer reaching a crescendo as Rani walks into the flame lessen down the tension of the scene, at the same time, it also heavy the heart clouding the thought process and applauding the step the Rani had taken.
The music by the director himself also deserves a mention. He has reached a height through the song Ek Dil Ek Jaan. The soulful song was sung by Shivam Pathak, and the surprising fact is that the same singer sings the utmost devil’s song also–Khalbali. The way his voice had been used it’s a revelation. Another revelation that Bhansali gifted the listener is Arijit Singh through the song Binte Dil.
Another man in this context deserves mention. Lyricist A.M.Turaz. He had surprised us in recent time with some of the well-written songs like Kabhi Jo Badal, Aaayat, Udi and few more. In this movie, he had written all the songs except Nainowale Ne and song of Holi which is a folk song. The lyrics are another rich aspect that make this movie a grand one especially the lines from the song Ek Dil Ek Jaan–Ishq bhi tu mera pyaar bhi tu/ Meri baat zaat jazbaat bhi tu/ Parwaaz bhi tu rooh-e-saaz bhi tu/ Meri saans nabz aur hayat bhi tu or the lines from Khalibali–Saara jahaan ghoom ke hum/ Tujhpe aake ruk gaye/ Tere jaise aasmaan bhi/ Tere aage aake jhuk gaye.
Overall the movie is not only an entertaining one but also an important one for showcasing the right mixing of the historical factors with fiction. And I wish to see two works specifically to be treated in the same manner, Durgeshnandini and Rajsingha both by Bankim Chandra Chattapadhaya which dealt with the later centuries of the era depicted in the movie.
The only complains I have are three in number–one the starting where all the disclaimers were said. It made me feel that freedom of expression through art had been insulted. The second one was the name of Deepika Padukone between the two heroes, and the names of Raza Murad and Aditi Rao Hydari as guest appearance though they form the crux of the movie, and the third the sword fighting. It makes me remind of Troy (2004), the fight between Achilles played by Brad Pitt and Hector played by Eric Bana. Some of the moves seem to be similar to that movie. Another complain I had about the CGI. In some portion, the CGI was not so best making those scenes colorless, faded, and thus creating glitches in a fine painting.
Two Other Essays Related to the Movie:
Read my other Movie Reviews here.