Padmaavat movie cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Jim Sarbh, Anupriya Goenka, Raza Murad
Padmaavat movie director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Padmaavat movie rating: 2.5 stars
All those provocative over how Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat would trample all over Rajput pride, you may rest easy: the director didn’t need a memo from the Karni Sena and all the other self-styled ‘armies’ on keeping it ‘sanskaari’ – his entire film is a relentlessly opulent, magnificently-mounted paean to Rajput ‘aan baan shaan’.
Here’s how it goes, just in case you are one of those rare people who haven’t been breathlessly following the film’s troubles: the Rajput king Ratan Singh (Kapoor) is the hero, the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji (Singh) is the villain, and the object of their mutual adoration is the utterly gorgeous Padmavati, who will always and forever be a good Indian girl, and later, wife. When we see her first, she is fleet of foot and clear of eye, a joyous free spirit who has a will of her own. She ends up committing ‘jauhar’, her life and death circumscribed by male notions of honour.
If that’s not social system, then I’m Queen Padmavati, who of course did not exist. And while we of course cannot judge the actions of the dramatic personae who presumably lived in the 13th century (even if they were mythical creatures, created by the poet Malik Mohammad Jayasi) by present day gender roles, we do see that the director has a problem on his hands: how do you show a beautiful queen jumping into a pyre, along with hundreds of her compatriots (a shot has a pregnant woman and a little girl), without glorifying the act?
One way of doing it is to stuff the beginning and the middle acts with so much glitter and glamour that we are expected to be swept away. Which we dutifully do: there’s a kind of beauty in the way Bhansali creates his frames, even if your eye begins to be overwhelmed by it. Deepika Padukone has never been lovelier. She wears those stunning costumes, never letting them wear her, even if her waist is decorously covered in the Ghoomar song (alert viewers may see a flash of the said body part in other parts of the film). Shahid Kapoor sports kohl in his eyes, and clearly articulated muscles in his chest, often left bare. But this film belongs to Ranveer Singh’s Khilji, who bites into mounds of meat (serving well the prototype of the Muslim savage) and his part with such relish that you can taste it.
Overall, modification ruins Padmaavat otherwise more star can be added to it.