More than a decade ago, historicals were not considered profitable and hence, very few of them were made. Jodhaa Akbar (2008) in this regard was a game changer. It was a period and yet mainstream film. And it was a successful flick commercially. More recently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani also worked big time. And now the master director is back with another grand piece of celluloid, Padmaavat. And thankfully, it manages to entertain and amaze! This surely ranks as Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s finest work in a long time!
The story of the movie: The beautiful and elegant queen Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) is the wife of Chittor’s Raja Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor). Meanwhile, Sultan Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) is from Afghanistan who has become the Sultan of Delhi through treachery. He learns about Padmavati and her beauty. Without even seeing her, he decides to attack Chittor and take away Padmavati with him. When Maharawal Ratan Singh finds out, he decides not to give in and fight it out.
Padmaavat begins on a chilling note. Khilji’s entry is clapworthy and sets the mood for the film. The entry of Maharawal Ratan Singh and Padmavati is also splendid although their courtship and marriage happens too quickly. The first 40-45 minutes consists of two parallel tracks and when they finally intersect, the film gets even better. Although one would be excited to see the action, the film’s dramatic sequences are more interesting and clap and whistle inducing.
The entire bit 15 minutes before the intermission is terrific. The film thankfully doesn’t drop in the second half. The greatness of Rani Padmavati and why she is revered and worshipped is neatly explained. The best however is reserved for the last 30 minutes. The pre climax fight is nail biting while the climax is bound to leave one speechless!
Deepika Padukone delivers a yet another power-packed performance. Sanjay Leela Bhansali always brings out the best in her and Padmaavat is no exception. The manner in which she exudes her sensitive as well as her no nonsense approach is seen to be believed. Ranveer Singh is even better, easily delivering the best performance of his career. He brings out the madness beautifully but at the same time he also clearly depicts how Khilji is a shrewd strategist. He also evokes fear convincingly. Shahid Kapoor springs a surprise. One might expect that he might be sidelined but that never happens even for a second. He delivers a splendid performance and he is going to be loved for sure! Jim Sarbh (Malik Kafur) gets to play an extremely interesting character. He was a bit over the top in Raabta but here, he proved that Neerja was not a fluke! Aditi Rao Hydari (Mehrunissa) doesn’t get much scope in the first half but shows her worth in the second half. She proves yet again that she is one of the most underrated actresses. Anupriya Goenka (Nagmati), recently seen as the nurse in Tiger Zinda Hai, is very good but sadly her character doesn’t have much to do. Raza Murad (Jalaluddin Khilji) is great and his baritone voice aids his character greatly. Ujjwal Chopra (Raghav) is menacing. Others also do a fine job.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s music is melodious but not as memorable as Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela. Ghoomar is the best song, very well shot and choreographed. Binte Dil comes next and is quite imaginative. Ek Dil Ek Jaan is fine while Khalibali tries to recreate the magic of Malhari but doesn’t quite reach there. Holi is relegated to the background. Sanchit Balhara‘s background score is exhilarating and one of the best things about the film.
Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography is flawless. The aerial shots are too good. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production design is highly authentic and nicely recreates the bygone era. Rajesh G Pandey’s editing is simple and nice. Sham Kaushal’s action is excellent without being too gory. Harpreet Rimple, Maxima Basu, Chandrakant and Ajay‘s costumes are appealing, especially the ones worn by Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh. VFX and 3D is not the best but works big time in most scene.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s story is dramatic and very well written. Prakash R Kapadia and Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s screenplay is highly engaging. There’s not much of story as such but the screenwriters ensure there’s enough happening in this 163 minute long film. Prakash R Kapadia‘s dialogues are sharp and add to the drama. Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s direction is efficient as always. Yes, he does take cinematic liberties but in a beautiful way. For instance, the climax has several fictional developments but they enhance the impact. Only place he could have done better is with regards to Maharawal Ratan Singh and Padmavati’s romance. Since it’s not established well, the subsequent scenes also suffer. For instance, the Ek Dil Ek Jaan song could have been moving if their romantic track had not proceeded so quickly in the beginning. Nevertheless, an extraordinary job by the master director!
Some of the best scenes:
1. Khilji’s entry (epic!)
2. Padmavati and Maharawal Ratan Singh’s entry
3. Raghav gets banished
4. Khilji becomes the king and meets Malik Kafur
5. Khilji meets Raghav
6. 15 minutes before the interval
7. Padmavati sends a list of demands to Khilji
8. Padmavati in enemy camp
9. The pre climax and climax
On the whole, Padmaavat is a stunning flick in all respects that shouldn’t be missed at any cost. The characters are very interesting, the dramatic sequences are very well executed and the film goes on another level during the climax. Watch this film and get acquainted about a great story from the pages of Indian history!
My rating – **** out of 5!