Padmaavat Review

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has a penchant for controversy, whether it was the 'pinga' song sung by the Peshwa queen in 'Bajirao Mastani' or the 'Ghoomar' dance in this film. There was also the question of did the king dance to a very colloquial modern 'vaat lavli' song. But the Marathi 'manner' remained a TV debate and angry newspaper articles by 'conscience keepers'. This time, the Rajput Moral Police took to burning theatres and tearing down posters thinking their Rajput pride would be hurt if a Muslim king were shown romancing a Rajput princess. If only they had seen the film! Their anger would have been turned into sheer boredom of a costume drama that goes on and on and on.


That Sanjay Leela Bhansali can make things look good is not in contest. Visually, the film is beautiful. But when you hear the tiny (yes, he's so thin, he could be counted as half a Rajput) Shahid Kapoor play Maharawal Ratan Singh and talk about Rajpur pride and glory and principles and code of war, he just seems like he's playacting. He talks so much about the 'Rajput Shaan' (pride of Rajputs), you begin to pray for Shakaal from 'Shaan' the 1980 film to show up and save us from the lecturing. Plus, he's so stiff, you wonder if they used extra glue used for his moustache twirl and used it on his neck.


Deepika Padukone mostly has tears in her saucer eyes, and it's funny to see how she bends down to hug her boring husband. She carries her clothes beautifully, but you wish there was something more to her than the adoring looks she has to give to Shahid Kapoor (who looks comical when he's impaled by her arrow, and bores us to death with his endless dialog.


Ranveer Singh saves the film with a lot of hamming and we love him for that. He looks like he had fun playing the demented, wicked Alauddin Khilji. And his dialog is so bad it is good. Plus, kudos to Bhansali for showing a very interesting sexual angle to this villain. Takes courage to do that. Ranveer's wild dance is just fab, and so are his deeds: his suspicious nature when he changes the food plates, him strangling the nephew... And the women in the audience sighed audibly, lustfully when he's sleeping topless in the tent or bathing or...


The other characters, like Jim Sarbh who is slave to Khilji, Gora Singh the Rajput army general, Rawal's first wife Nagmati, Badal's mother are all great supporting cast, but Ranveer Singh simply lights up the screen, even if he's shown lovelorn, waiting for morning to come... He also makes the audience laugh out loud in complete empathy when Shahid Kapoor shows up. Ranveer throws down the lotus flower ('Padma' means lotus) in disgust and says, 'Why do you have to turn up when I'm hoping to see Padmavati!'


That summed up this overly long, tedious, but beautiful film for me. Take a bow Ranveer Singh, your hamming saves this film.

The story of a beautiful, faithful queen and a lustful invader who will stop at nothing is told in three very long hours. The costume drama is beautiful and Rajasthan is a great setting for this tale of Rajput valor. But the talk of pride and glory is so endless, it makes you want to run into your sword out of sheer boredom. But Ranveer Singh makes a brilliant hammy villain, and Deepika is luminous. (2.5) - Manisha Lakhe


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