Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Jim Sarbh, Aditi Rao Hydari
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is an artist. He paints the most beautiful imagery, not just of the landscapes but also of the characters in his film. Each and every one in PADMAAVAT is an over dramatized, non-human being who looks rather grand.
To begin with, let's first address the elephant in the room! Is there anything the Rajputs could have objected in this grandeur that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has conjured? NOPE! NOTHING! ZILCH!
As for the story...Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is looking for precious pearls for his queen of Mewar, when he meets the feisty and stunning Padmaavati (Deepika) of Singhal. Almost instantly, Ratan Singh realises that the truest precious pearl is the woman he is looking at. Their admiration for each other leads to love and eventual marriage. While Padmaavati is stunning, her cunning nature is also applaud-worthy. Her mind and her beauty soon become the talk across the kingdoms. Ratan and Padmaavati are celebrating their love when the barbaric Sultan Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) hears of Padmaavati. Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi has only one fetish, to acquire everything precious for himself and Padmaavati is of course, the rare gem that should crown the Sultan’s armour. The fascination turns into obsession and Maharawal Ratan Singh retaliates. While Ratan Singh fights the beast, Padmaavati plans her own siege. She cannot combat the man but she will never let him have anything that belongs only and only to Ratan Singh – not even herself. The Juahar is heart-wrenching, and is depicted with Bhansali’s signature style grandness, leaving the audience in a visual splendour.
So why is it that the 163mins of grandiose doesn’t leave you raving about it as you come out of the theatre. Perhaps because it is so beautiful, it is almost unreal. Each and every frame of the film is an artist’s work. There is such gorgeousness, that it hurts the eye! Perhaps that is the reason, why in all this picture-perfectness, Alauddin Khilji stands out for his raw appeal.
Ranveer and Alauddin have been so well-meshed into each other that it is an instant connect. His rawness, his larger than life imaging works as an antithesis for the glowing literature that is Padmaavati and Ratan Singh’s love. While theirs is a flowy splendour – Khilji is stark and unapologetic. Making him really invincible.
While Shahid Kapoor’s Ratan Singh manages to get variety in his one character, Ranveer has a blinkered performance and yet, you come out with flashes of Ranveer more than that of Shahid, despite the senior actor giving Ranveer a decent competition.
Perhaps in the second or third watch of the film, you might see some moments which make Shahid stand out as well, for the actor has enough opportunities to blossom. But the first impression of the film is completely for Ranveer to capture. And capture, he does. There are some scenes which leave you cringing, some leaving you appalled and each and everyone leaves you impressed.
While Padmaavati belongs to Ranveer – there are moments when Bhansali almost reaches out to stun you with his story-telling. The relationship with Khilji and his eunuch slave Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh) for instance, or even Mehrunissa’s (Aditi Rao Hydari) quiet angst is for all to see. But it is just so grand and perfect; leaving everything as gorgeous as Deepika but not sacrificing it enough for a wholesome human story!