Padmaavat – A slow moving grandeur with scant story

Starting with some two screen full of disclaimers, the pretext commotion to the melodrama that is about to begin is exponentially higher than what the actual 3 hours of cinematic extravaganza will offer you. Despite that, here is an unpoliticized looking at Padmaavat in a way we hope it was meant.

Inspired by the legend of Rani Padmavati, a Hindu Rajput queen as mentioned in an Awadhi poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in 1540, Bhansali presents yet another subject of visual admiration. We know by now the scale and heights of this man’s vision in creating a painting like cinema. Padmaavat is just that, and hardly anything more. The costumes, the jewellery, the production design, the cinematography, all of it is painstakingly beautiful and thorough but fails to elevate the storytelling above its mediocracy.

The film is strongly partial to building its characters. A majority of instances establish the multi-faceted (all negative) dimensions of the tyrannous Alauddin Khilji. Barbaric, eccentric, relentless, bisexual and evil. His monstrousness is filled with aplomb, his demeanour is gruesome, yet he demands the most attention. Meanwhile, there is Rani Padmavati, an embodiment of eternal beauty, robed in the best of royalty at all times and King of Mewar, with a ‘one expression fits all’ trying to find his place in this inconsistent narrative. The romance between the king and queen Padmavati is at most austere.

Deepika as Padmavati alternates between eyes brimming with tears and a raised unibrow to switch from submissive to authoritative. Her strength as an actor is praiseworthy , but much to director’s delight, her nose rings and neckpieces are stealing more applause. Shahid Kapoor’s stance is overflowing with poise, periodically reminding the valour of Rajput community. Maharawal Ratan Singh is clearly unjust to Kapoor’s talent. Ranveer is undoubtedly magnificent. Unrecognizable as anything else but Khilji, he is the best that Padmaavat brings to the screen. Still cannot call this Ranveer’s best performance, but his act only reiterates his herculean capabilities as an actor.

Flowy hair, kohled eyes, scarred faces, precise bindis everything maintains this love-war between the angelic and the demonic. All of this leading to the crescendo of a 20 minute long glamourised ‘Jauhar’.

A slow- moving splendour, an opulence overkill, this is an exhaustive watch despite Ranveer.

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