‘History repeats itself’, a phrase that you must have heard a number of times before but what the movie Padmavati makes you realise that our concocted understanding of pride and an illogical inability to keep it safe from the evil clutches of politics has persisted beyond the length of history and crippled our minds, even today. Raja Ratan Singh couldn’t understand the difference between protecting ‘Rajputi Aan’ and Khilji’s nefarious planning then, and the innocent public, cannot understand the difference between savouring ‘Rajputi Aan’ and falling prey to the nefarious political game, today.
But for the controversy surrounding it, this would have been just another Bhansali flick. The filmmaker seemed confused in the beginning, whether to portray the story as a comic, jungle book sequence or make it a folk documentary. The computer-generated visuals of Deepika hunting a deer in the jungle and her romantic encounter with Sahid Kapoor looked sub-ordinary, jerky and devoid of life. In general, the story travels at an erratic pace, in some sequences, the story content was compromised for picturization, the grandiosity of valour compromised for the grandiosity of cinematography and certain other scenes were rushed through. The depiction of the ‘Brahman’s’ lecherous intent that led to his betrayal was ill-conceived, the elder queen had nothing better to do than sew clothes and the war sequences looked rushed through.
But what was most striking was the conspicuous absence and very poor depiction of Gora and Badal’s valorous effort to save their King. Listening to poetry recital of Gora and Badal’s valour by Kumar Vishwas gives you more goosebumps and inflates your pride more than seeing their cut-short presence in the movie, surprising. In fact, it looked as if more than the gallant effort of Padmavati and her commanders it was the mercy of Khilji queen that led to their escape.
On the whole, the film belonged to Khilji both in terms of the story and that of performance. The unpredictable and lunatic tantrums of Khilji looked convincing and left you wanting to hate him and that’s the victory of performance.
Deepika looked splendid in traditional Rajasthani royal costumes and carried herself through the dialogue delivery in Mewari ascent with ease and elegance. Sahid as Raja Ratan Singh was convincing as well, though his role offered little to display his qualities.
The fight between Ratan Singh and Khilji in the battlefield with their respective armies waiting in the background was stale, a copy from Troy and then repeated in Jodha Akbar
The climax scene of Khilji running to take control of his war prize, heaps of burning coal being thrown on him and the mass movement of ladies to embrace the pyre was spectacular and bore Bhansali’s signature all over.
All in all, worth a watch period drama, especially for magnificent visuals but don’t expect much.