"Padmaavat" Movie Review: Despite Deepika Padukone's Inspired Performance, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Film Is A Slog - <b>Technical Lobby</b>

Friday, January 26, 2018

"Padmaavat" Movie Review: Despite Deepika Padukone's Inspired Performance, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Film Is A Slog

"Padmaavat" Movie Review: Its beauty, as is usually the case with a Sanjay Leela Bhansali extravaganza, is skin deep.


 "Padmaavat" Movie Review: Despite Deepika Padukone's Inspired Performance, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Film Is A Slog

Cast: Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Jim Sarbh

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)

The first thing that strikes you as "Padmaavat" unfolds on the screen is how tepid the opulent, overwrought film is in spite of its visual flair and technical wizardry. Its beauty, as is usually the case with a Sanjay Leela Bhansali extravaganza, is skin deep. It is magnificent but overly manufactured.

 "Padmaavat" Movie Review: Despite Deepika Padukone's Inspired Performance, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Film Is A Slog

Female lead Deepika Padukone - after whose character the film was named until censorial intervention shaved off the 'i' from the title and diluted its upfront distaff emphasis, is an eye-catching epitome of elegance. She is a sight to behold. So, as some SLB fans might assert, is the film.

There is pizzazz aplenty in this overlong horses-and-swords yarn, but it is all so superficial - if not wholly superfluous - that nothing that the excess-obsessed filmmaker throws into the boiling pot can rustle up a broth sizzling enough to keep crackling over a runtime of nearly three hours. What's worse is the dubious ideology it peddles to uphold notions of history favoured by the nation's current political dispensation.

 "Padmaavat" Movie Review: Despite Deepika Padukone's Inspired Performance, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Film Is A Slog

In one scene, Rani Padmavati (Padukone) is blamed for the capture of her husband Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) by Sultan-e-Hind Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh). You allowed him go to the enemy camp alone and unarmed, she is berated by the King's first wife. She is harangued for her beauty too. Padmavati replies: shouldn't you be blaming the male nazar (gaze) and neeyat (intention) instead?


All this is supposedly taking place in the 13th century, but the nazar and neeyat contention has an instant contemporary ring to it. So the argument that the way women are generally treated in this film reflects the period the story is set in does not hold water. Not much later, the Queen asks her husband for permission to perform her "jauhar ka haq" (the right to commit jauhar). I cannot even die without your say-so, she tells Ratan Singh.

                       

Prettiness overload runs "Padmaavat" to the ground and turns it into an occasionally striking but eventually clunky drama woven around a smitten man fighting another for a glimpse of a peerless Queen. She is obviously a woman to kill and die for. Yet, despite Deepika's inspired performance and exquisite screen presence, Rani Padmavati is never more than a cardboard cutout. She serves as a mere pretext for two macho warriors - one a paragon of probity, the other an embodiment of creepy savagery - unleash a war so fierce that it spells death by fire for a bunch of Rajput women.

The tale, derived from Malik Muhammad Jayasi's 16th century epic poem, floats on the surface, willing us on to embrace the constant sensory stimulation that the director presses into the service of his 'grand' vision of a period of history when unblemished Rajput warriors waged valiant wars while their acquiescent women unquestioningly adhered to a patriarchal code of conduct. In the face of the obduracy and valour of the King of Mewar, Padmavati's oh-so-noble husband, the fierce Muslim invader is forced to rethink his methods and fall back on ever-increasing brutality and skullduggery, driven by his growing obsession with Rani Padmavati.
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