‘Padmaavat’ — Ranveer Singh delivers the performance of his career

Despite the fact that some scenes and even some songs are chucked out from the period film in some cinemas of Pakistan, ‘Padmaavat’ towers above others with its excellent story execution

‘Period film ‘Padmaavat’ which is based on the married life of Rajput queen Padmavati, had been the centre of controversy ever since it was initially announced.

Much was said about the film’s makers distorting facts and coming up with a story that was in no way close to reality. Shortly after the film was released, there was debate about Hindus being shown in a pious frame, whereas Muslims were portrayed as savages and blood thirsty beings, doing anything in their power to take advantage of the weaker ones.

I do agree to some extent that the filmmaker should have carried out a thorough research before putting it forth. He should have taken into consideration the sentiments of all at large and mellowed the storyline a little. Maybe this maybe that. However, after much had been said and declared, one needs to see the film and feel its characters, execution, the storyline, the choreography, the music, the screenplay and the impact and see where the director if at all went wrong.

STRENGTHS

‘Padmaavat’ strength lies in its visuals. Just the opening scene takes you in where you understand why the film has been released in both 3D and 2D. The visuals are fantastic and nothing compared to any period film’s sets and ambience you have seen before. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has done full justice to the story of Allauddin and his conquest of Chittor. The opening scene is one where Allauddin Khilji walks in with an ostrich, tied to his finger. Sanjay Leela Bhansali creates an environment that practically takes you inside the darbaar of a sultan, where every courtier is dressed to perfection in the getup of a period drama character. The makeup, the costumes and the body language is praiseworthy. Indeed, a lot of heart and soul it seems to have been put in the film.

For someone essaying the titular role of Bhansali’s ambitious film, Padukone disappointed. She had no screen presence, no power in her dialogues and did not even impress with her dancing skills the way she normally does

The film has come out at the time when drama television series ‘Game Of Thrones’ is a sensation across the world and so people are already in tune with how a period drama might look like and how the characters would be so different and at the same time, so relatable. The battles sequences, the costumes and the period rituals are all ‘GOT’ set precedents, accepted already by the TV series fans, and this would not have been a better time for ‘Padmaavat’ to come out. Having said that, Bhansali had much at stake. He took a risk, with eastern graphics and not so advanced tools, but pulled off his vision with aplomb.

There is never truly a dull moment in the film. Period dramas can be bit of a drag and sway one’s attention. One of the best things about Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ is that the story engages you and gets your attention right from the beginning to the end. There is impact, and that’s what you take home after the end of the film.

Jim Sarbh as Malik Kafur and Ranveer Singh as Khilji have delivered the strongest performances in the film. It’s funny how they essay the negative characters and the blood thirsty villains but come out as the strongest characters of ‘Padmaavat’. Ranveer Singh is loathsome as the hateful ruler. He owns the role and puts forth a performance that reeks of cruelty and barbarism.

Ranveer Singh is loathsome as the hateful ruler. He owns the role and puts forth a performance that reeks of cruelty and barbarism. Without a shadow of doubt, Khilji is Singh’s strongest performance to date. It is Singh’s film and his moment to shine as an actor par excellence

Without a shadow of a doubt, Khilji is Singh’s strongest performance to date. It is Singh’s film and his moment to shine as an actor par excellence. Jim Sarbh – the 30-year-old award winning theatre actor – has breathed life into the character of Khilji’s slave Malik Kafur. Obedient, vulnerable and as power hungry as Khilji, Kafur’s character essayed by Sarbh is that of a dominant probable successor to Khilji. Sarbh stands out with his expressions, his timing and acting skills.

Aditi Rao Hyderi as Mehrunnisa also deserves a special mention, as even though her role and screen presence was short, but she did justice to her character of the Sultan’s daughter and Khilji’s wife. Her expressions, dialogue delivery and screen presence cannot be ignored. Also, she looked very beautiful and the role suited her, making us wonder why she never did a period film before.

Songs “Ghoomar” and “Khalibali” are the best ‘Padmaavat’ produced, right from its elaborate sets how we know Bhansali to put up and the choreographies that stand unparalleled. “Ghoomar” has been sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Swaroop Khan and “Khalibali” has been sung by Shivam Pathak and Shail Hada. “Ghoomar” sees Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati, clad in red, and dancing with the village girls – a song that has been picturised and captured beautifully, showing the young princess in a merry frame. “Khalibali” is Singh’s track, where he celebrates the victory of his conquests. Singh dances supremely well as Khilji, making his character come to life and not his own.

WEAKNESSES

Shahid Kapoor as Ratan Singh takes his time to get inside a king’s getup. Some of his dialogues in the first half seem powerful but fall flat once Shahid Kapoor iterates them. Also, one feels if Kapoor was a bad choice for Ratan Singh’s character for he fails to carry the angrakhas with a hint of masculinity. It is only towards the second half, that Kapoor puts in an effort and makes his presence felt – saving his character’s death before its demise. Surprisingly, Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati delivered a flat performance. For someone essaying the titular role of Bhansali’s ambitious film, Padukone disappointed. She had no screen presence, no power in her dialogues and did not even impress with her dancing skills how she normally does. Of all the films, Padukone has done previously, only she can pull them off, but with ‘Padmaavat’, we wondered if Bhansali could’ve cast just anyone.

Published in Daily Times, February 10th 2018.