Putting the controversy, politics and its added emotions aside, after a point Padmaavat needs to be looked at purely as a film. A film which fluctuated between brilliance and being a drag quite frequently.
I walked into this film with huge expectations thanks to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bhajirao Mastani. Every frame in that movie was a delight and treat to watch. There’s intense emotions and riveting plot coupled with great characters. Can I say the same about Padmaavat? Disappointingly No! Padmaavat has a few well written characters, but the movie struggles with the plot and its pacing. More than once, I wished the story just moved along a bit faster.
(Disclaimer: I knew the story of Rani Padmavati from a long time before the release. So nothing in the story was new to me. And so that could be one of the reasons why the story might not have appealed to me as much. But I did I look forward to the climax because I read so much about it. I wasn’t disappointed and thoroughly enjoyed that final act! Though a bit over the top dramatic, that climax does give you goosebumps with its music and emotion. But how it leads up to that final act is another story altogether that is riddled with plot holes and speed bumps)
As much as I was disappointed with the plot, I was also floored by another element: Performances in the film. Ranveer Singh as the evil Alauddin Khilji owns this! There is evil beyond reason and madness and that always makes for some good entertainment. Kudos to Ranveer to pull it off as well as he did. His performance alone is worth buying a ticket for.
But I bought the ticket for other reasons 😛 Deepika, you beauty! She was stunning in Bhajirao and she continues to be stunning here. That opening scene of her! Uff! Doesn’t the heart flutter? I can under Raja Ratansingh falling for her instantly. Who wouldn’t? 😛
But other than that plausibility, there were many plot points with no justification given. They were there just to push the plot along even if we don’t get to know the reason behind them. They looked silly in the larger scheme of things. And moreover could easily have been worked around had there been better writing. But thanks to over dramatization of each act in the movie, few scenes do end up being boring and silly. As it’s a spoiler free review, I can’t go anymore into the details.
Shahid Kapoor too does a decent job. Other than playing Ratansingh, he was also given the role to pacify the Rajput community with his dialogues that are aimed at only one thing: Praise the valor, ethos and skill of the Rajputs and their swords and in the process win over some protesting audience. Does it work? I sure think it does. I for one, was flattered with the community 😛
The cinematography, as always with any Bhansali film, was top notch. It’s one of the reasons why I look forward to his movies. The color palette, the sets, costumes work hand in hand and give us beautiful frames but not as frequently as it was for Bajirao (forgive me for the comparisons). The CG looked too artificial wherever it was used and that was a sore point for me. It wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t good either.
There was not much scope for song sequences in the film and so the songs too were okay considering that. It was nothing brilliant but works for this film. The background score was where the movie tries to hit hard. It tries to make up for the lacklustre writing with its rising tempos.
In the end, the movie was one huge tribute, glorification and love letter to Rajput community in India. It is sad that they read that letter upside down and were hurt. This movie would honestly make Rajputs proud about their ancestry. Audience can’t help but go, “wow” for them. But the movie on the whole, sometimes, beats its chest out, and sometimes puffs and drags itself. It is not thoroughly entertaining save for the performances from its lead actors: Ranveer and Deepika. And oh yes, also Shaihid.
But it isn’t a bad film by any stretch. It just did not come through as well as Bhansali would have hoped for. Watch it for the performances, with less expectations on the story and you might enjoy it (might!).