Monday, January 29, 2018

Padmaavat (Movie Review)

Padmaavat: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Epic Blunder!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Padmaavat, the much awaited and the much controversial film after its long battle in the court, with the Censor board and also on the streets, finally hit the cinema theatres on 25th January 2018. The Padman (Akshay Kumar) was wise enough to use his safety pads and escape the possible collateral damage due to the ire of the so-called fundamentalist forces in our country by not sharing a common date of release of his film along with Padmaavat. Sanjay Leela Bhansali publicly thanked Akshay Kumar for his generosity and camaraderie.

The social media is rife with comments, reviews, views ‘For’ and ‘Against’ Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his film ‘Padmaavat’. Swara Bhaskar’s open letter to SLB expressing her predicament after watching Padmaavat is debated whether she is right or wrong and to what extent she is biased and unbiased. Moreover, she is also receiving open letters in reply and I guess this will continue for some more time.

Like any other movies Sanjay Leela Bhansali has made, Padmaavat too fits into his set template very conveniently with larger than life sets, magnificent visuals and able actors who leave their impact on screen. Therefore, the film is undoubtedly a visual treat and has ample entertainment for the audience for the audience if they are not bothered about history and politics.The film portrays Alauddin Khilji, the ambitious and overzealous nephew of Jalaluddin Khilji, who kills his uncle Jalaluddin Khilji to wrest the power of Delhi Sultanate. The film also depicts the beautiful princess of a faraway Kingdom Singhal who falls for a Rajput King Maharawal Ratan Singh aka Rawal Ratan Sen of Chittor who happens to visit her kingdom in search of their unique pearls to gift his wife because he broke her much-treasured pearl necklace. Along with the pearls, he brings with him to Chittor his newlywed second wife Padmaavati, much to his first wife’s surprise and displeasure. Not focusing much on the marital discord SLB shifts his camera on the Raj Guru of Maharawal Ratan Singh because there lay the source of his trouble.
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The ousted and exiled Raj Guru brews vengeance, meets the new sultan of Delhi and spews venom in him by saying that without Rani Pamaavati he is still nothing and his growth and fame lies in Rani Padmaavati’s companionship. What follows is a series of encounters between Maharawal Ratan Singh and the Sultan. In the end, the Rajput King and his Rani fail to resist the mighty force of Alauddin Khilji. In the last scene, you find the screen ablaze and hundreds of women - young, old, pregnant and even a little girl take part in the traditional Jauhar (Mass Suicide jumping into burning pyres) to save their honour.

What needs to be noted about Padmaavat is that if you forget history and is least bothered about the truth, then the film appears to be good. It becomes a story about an ethical Rajput king and a barbarian invader who set his eyes on the Rajput king’s wife and unleashed terror to get his prized catch. But, that’s not the truth. As always, the ruling class has tried to distort and misinterpret history for vested interests and for that they have used scholars, historians and people from art and cultural field as a propagandist to push their agenda.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has flawed terribly in terms of understanding and depicting the Khilji dynasty ruler who otherwise is referred as an able King who with his formidable military generalship and able statesmanship, turned the small kingdom of Delhi into a vast empire in the 14th century. He was considered as a unifying force at a time when the territories were vast and fractured. Sanjay Leela Bhansali also errs disastrously in portraying Malik Kafur as an object of lust and a eunuch who only massaged Khilji’s feet and danced. Whereas, Malik Kafur rose to the highest rank as an Army General and led a series of expeditions across India. Amir Khhusro, the iconic cultural figure in the cultural history of Indian sub-continent is depicted as a sidekick. He was a revered Sufi musician, poet and a scholar.
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The review of the film Padmaavat has become less of a review and more of a debate and discussion about where our creative people are heading to? Are they slowly succumbing to the political agenda of some outfits/parties/fringe groups/fundamentalist forces in our country? Are they trying to play safe and trying to be in the good books of people in power? What makes a filmmaker of SLB’s stature not do his homework before embarking on making a film on historical figures who have played important roles in carving a unified India, developing culture and political systems? We need to find answers to such pertinent questions so that creativity and talents are not sold for thirty silver coins.

Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji is basking under the sun of success. But he is too loud and should have at least studied about the historical character he is playing. Had he done that, he would have been a bit more realistic as Alauddin Khilji. Shahid Kapoor is more composed and looks fully decked up as a Rajput king and less prepared for a battle. Deepika Padukone is gracious but simply got in a domestic with her husband the moment she leaves the Singhal Kingdom for no reasons. She even needs a permission to commit Jauhar. I think as an actor she could have at least questioned Bansali’s creative excesses in this regard. Aditi Rao Hydari is left with nothing much to do but is beautiful on screen as Alaudin’s begum who understands Padmaavati’s plight. Raza Murad as Jalaluddin Khilji looks like a huge piece of meat hung in a butcher’s shop that has a baritone voice and he painfully drags himself on the floor when he walks. Jim Sarbh as Malik Kafur could have done better if he had been asked to play the role as an Army General too under Alauddin Khilji, unfortunately, Bansali’s history book doesn’t have that chapter.
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In short, go and watch Padmavat if you give a damn about history. Enjoy and get entertained and forget all the social media crap being circulated. Or, if you really value history and is critical towards people who have a specific agenda to distort history to break the sanctity of our social equilibrium, then question the filmmakers, the people, and parties behind such propaganda.

.Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.5/5

Cast: Deepika Padukone (Rani Padmaavati), Shahid Kapoor (Maharawal Ratan Singh), Ranveer Singh (Alauddin Khilji), Raza Mura (Jalaluddin Khilji), Aditi Rao Hydari (Mehrunissa), Jim Sarbh (Malik Kafur), Anupriya Goenka

Genre: Drama/Action

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Producers: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sudhanshu Vats, Ajit Andhare

Based on: Padmaavat (Epic Poem) by Malik Muhammed Jayasi

Written by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Prakash Kapadia

Music by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sanchit Balhara (Score)

Edited by: Jayant Jadhar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Akiv Ali

Cinematography: Sudeep Chatterjee

Production Company:  Bhansali Productions, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

Distributed by: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures (India), Paramount Pictures (International)

Release Date: 25 January, 2018

Language: Hindi

Duration: 163 Minutes