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PADMAAVAT - All that glitters and strategically hyped is not always gold. (Review By Bobby Sing)

26 Jan, 2018 | Movie Reviews / 2018 Releases

(Disclaimer) Post the much discussed controversy, uncontrolled agitations and state filed pleas supporting a ban on PADMAAVAT, the present write-up is just about the film, its content and whether it is worth spending money spent on the once again cunningly increased multiplex ticket prices or not.

Based on the epic poem with the same title by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, PADMAAVAT is about a triangular relationship, wherein love and lust are the two approaches towards a divinely beautiful queen, ending on an emotionally tragic note representing a Rajput tradition. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali the film has everything the director is known for in terms of visual presentation, picture perfect frames, breathtaking locations, unparalleled grandeur, splendid costumes, eye-catching make up, dramatic scenes and impressive performances from the cast.
 
So if these technical achievements in a larger than life project with a couple of superfine acts is all you wish to see and enjoy in a film spending your hard earned money and time, then PADMAAVAT would easily fulfill your requirements and satisfy you well. However if you wish to see the storyteller director in the film, who displayed a fine understanding of characterization, explosive drama, impactful dialogues, soulful music and onscreen chemistry in most of his films making an instant emotional connect with the audience, then PADMAAVAT would be a big disappointment as the film is nothing but a beautiful body without a soul having not much to offer.
 
Ironically, the overpublicized film not only lacks depth in its writing but also displays some easily catchable graphical backgrounds too that wasn’t anything felt or seen in Bhansali’s BAJIRAO MASTANI. As a matter of fact, throughout its overstretched duration, PADMAAVAT strongly appears to be film made under a visible hangover of BAJIRAO MASTANI in its overall look and feel. Particularly in the sequences featuring Deepika Padukone, it many times gives you the feeling of everything seen before and familiar with nothing fresh as such. At times you also feel as if Deepika is straight coming out of a frame of BAJIRAO MASTANI into a look-alike frame of PADMAAVAT with an exactly similar appearance. So the same casting (of the title role) in reality turns out to be a drawback instead of an advantage despite Deepika's earnest performance as Rani Padmavati.
 
If truth be told, PADMAAVAT is neither watchable for Bhansali nor Deepika or the visuals or the songs or the VFX as loudly projected. It can simply be seen just for Ranveer Singh alone giving an outstanding performance playing a supposedly evil Alauddin Khilji along with a subtly striking Shahid Kapoor. Hinting at Khilji being bisexual and a completely negative character, Ranveer amazingly gets into the skin of his role (in a praiseworthy get-up) and dwarfs everyone else on the screen leaving no chance to excel like a greedy professional. The film too mainly revolves around Ranveer's character, introducing Khilji in the very first scene, surprisingly without any expectedly loud or filmy build-up. Making a courageous career decision, Ranveer rightly grabs the opportunity to play the baddie and he simply nails it. 
 
The screen brightens up in every single scene of Ranveer and he truly saves the otherwise flat film to be brutally honest. So a strong contender of the ‘Best Actor’ award is already here in the first month of year itself as Ranveer Singh. 
 
Shahid Kapoor on the other hand, gives quite a controlled and subtle performance giving you no chances to complain. He expressively plays his part and is natural in his intimate scenes with Deepika too. Whereas Deepika can easily be stated as the weakest link of the film, not because of her performance but due to her so recent and similar appearance in BAJIRAO MASTANI working with the same director and co-stars like a continuing sequel. Deepika is graceful, supporting an elegant look on her face, communicating through her beautiful eyes, but also remains repetitive in her appearance due to the reasons mentioned above.
 
As a director, Bhansali once again proves his ability of choosing a praiseworthy supporting cast led by Jim Sarbh as the romantic slave of Khilji having a creepy smile. Jim does get into a theatrical mode in a few scenes but overall gives an effective performance in a short role making his presence felt. Aayam Mehta as the priest is first rate. Ujjwal Chopra, Anupriya Goenka and Raza Murad are just fine but Aditi Rao Hydari sincerely performs and excels in her given scenes.
 
Coming back to the drawbacks, you don’t get to see the finesse and grip of BAJIRAO MASTANI in PADMAAVAT that turns out to be a depthless and a less impressive film in its excessive long duration of 163 minutes. Not only the characters lack depth, the dialogues too don’t seem to be of a film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, apart from a few praising the Rajput pride or the ones making the audience laugh. The much needed ‘soul’ goes missing as there are no grey characters in the script bringing in the heartfelt emotional moments. The characters are either black or white, who also appear to be mostly unrealistic progressing on a flat path. The film offers nothing novel or fresh apart from Khilji and even the much awaited climax of hundreds of women collectively performing the JAUHAR doesn’t work due to a hurried and ineffective execution ending on an abrupt note. Moreover the climax strongly makes you recall an exactly similar one earlier seen in Ketan Mehta’s arthouse classic MIRCH MASALA (1987).

Bhansali, who is known for his great understanding of music and lyrics delivers nothing significant in PADMAAVAT except the Ghoomar song which is anyway traditional and Ek Dil Ek Jaan scoring the maximum. A track abruptly sung by Khilji’s personal slave looks ridiculous and so does the one by Khilji himself, as a pale replica of BAJIRAO MASTANI’s energized Malhaari. In the art and camera department, the visual spectacle is there but it isn’t consistent throughout in comparison with director’s last period film. The background score is fine but the dialogues remain too average, at times giving you the feel of watching a lavish stage play instead of a feature film.
 
Besides I couldn’t understand what impression of Hazrat Amir Khusrau had Bhansali got in his mind while presenting the character so casually as just another poet in Khilji’s court without giving any focused, respectful importance. In fact, it would have been much better if no mention of the iconic historical figure was made in the film at all.
 
Regarding the controversy, PADMAAVAT(I) constantly keeps reminding you of the Rajput pride and bravery in its various sequences and hence shows no disrespect towards them in any manner. May be Bhansali added more dialogues for the same post the clash in the initial shooting schedule and may be that is the reason he shows The Khiljis as entirely dark or evil and The Rajputs divinely pure without any grey shades in their characterisation.
 
Overall, PADMAAVAT has its spectacular moments and the magnitude too. But it certainly cannot be included in Bhansali’s best works and can only be seen for Ranveer Singh alone more than anything else.
 
Rating : 2.5 / 5
 
(Note: The article was first published on UC-News Mobile App in January 2018)

Tags : PADMAAVAT Review By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Sanjay Leela Bhansali Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing
26 Jan 2018 / Comment ( 0 )
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