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Movie Review: Padmaavat

Banners: Bhansali Productions, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

Producers: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sudhanshu Vats, Ajit Andhare

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Cast: Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari, Jim Sarbh, Anupriya Goenka, Raza Murad

Writers: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Prakash Kapadia

Music: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

His journey started with Khamoshi – Ek Musical, and since then, he’s taken his audience to different worlds through his cinema. That’s Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who once again transports the audience into another century through his creation, Padmaavat.

‘Mind-blowing’ is the word that best describes the movie, which is a visual treat blended with strong content and rivetting performances from every actor. The combination of Bhansali-Deepika-Ranveer has entertained audiences with their previous two movies, and this time sone pe suhaga is Shahid Kapoor.

It is said that poor performances can easily mar strong content but strong content along with superlative performances take the audience to a different world. And this world has been created by maverick filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

The film, based on the poem Padmavat by Malik Mohammad Jayasi, begins in 13th century Afghanistan, with the introduction of a young Allaudin, who is ruthless when it comes to satiating his need to own every beautiful thing he lays his eyes on.

The movie then moves to Singhal, where we see princess Padmavati out on a hunt. She is not only breathtakingly beautiful but also fierce. She accidentally wounds the Maharana of Mewar, Rawal Ratan Singh. The two fall in love and he takes her back to his kingdom as his choti rani sa. While the two revel in this deep love, a disgruntled member of their court, Raghav Chetan, approaches Allaudin, who is the leader of the Khilji clan and lives in Delhi.

Seduced by the description of Padmavati’s beauty given by Chetan, Allaudin decides that he has to have her by his side. The Khilji clan attempts to attack the Chittor Fort of Mewar but in vain. However, they manage to deceive Rawal Ratan Singh and capture him, forcing Rani Padmavati to come to Delhi. Padmavati shows her intelligence and valour in this battle but Allaudin’s obsession turns this fight into an all-out war. How he goes about conquering Chittor, how Rawal Ratan Singh leaves no stone unturned to uphold Rajput pride and to keep his wife safe, and how all this leads to Padmavati’s jauhar forms the crux of the cinematic masterpiece that is Padmaavat.

The film moves at a decent pace throughout its 2-hour, 43-minute run but dips at times in the second half before quickly engaging the audience again towards the climax, which is nothing short of magnificent. While the length is definitely an issue, whenever the pace drops, Bhansali manages to come up with some truly brilliant scenes. There are so many unforgettable moments in the movie, and whether due to the performances, cinematography, dialogue or the visuals, the final 15 minutes of the film are bound to stay with the audience for a long time.

With so many epic sagas under his belt, Bhansali made sure the look and feel of Padmaavat was well above the standards he has set for himself. Not once will the audience doubt the authenticity of the 13th century world he has built. The scenic locations used as backdrops, the grandeur of the castles and grittiness of the battle scenes depict the scale of Bhansali’s vision for his films.

Credit should also be given to the cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee, who has shot the scenes through an artistic lens. The director, who also wrote the film with Prakash Kapadia, should be applauded on the research he did for the set-up of his story and for his characters.

From Allaudin Khilji asking ‘Mere haath mein mohabbat ki lakeer hai ya nahi?’ to Padmavati’s powerful statement ‘Rajputi kangan mein bhi utni hi taaqat hoti hai jitni Rajputi talwar mein hai’, the lines written by Kapadia pack a punch, especially since they have been recited by exceptionally talented actors.

Like all other Bhansali movies, this film too has music as its strong point. The two songs that were launched prior to the movie’s release, Ghoomar and Ek dil ek jaan, are already crowd favourites. There are also some other songs based on Allaudin Khilji in the film, Binte dil and Khalibali, which are perfectly placed. The background score by Sanchit Balhara is a major plus, adding drama and intrigue to the narrative.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has once again proved that no one can do a saga better than him. The way he brings these historical stories to his canvas and paints a world so different from anything we have ever seen is magical.

Performance-wise, portraying the captivating beauty Rani Padmavati, Deepika Padukone does justice to the role throughout the film, stealing the limelight in every single frame especially the climax. Yet, another award-winning performance from Padukone. Ranveer Singh shows us that his range is off the charts with his role as Allaudin Khilji. The viciousness of his character comes out every time he is on the screen. He’s so brilliant that by the end of the film, you start hating his character. That’s how impactful his performance is. Again, he’s bound to sweep up all the awards for this performance.

Not being overshadowed by his co-stars, Shahid Kapoor holds his own as Rawal Ratan Singh, playing a Rajput to the hilt with his intense gaze and strong voice. In a word, he’s outstanding. A sly, surprise package, Jim Sarbh as Khilji’s general and companion, is excellent. Aditi Rao Hydari, in a special appearance, makes an impact. Anupriya Goenka is superb. Raza Murad is good. The other actors in the supporting cast are also quite strong.

Verdict: Blockbuster!

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