Saturday 27 January 2018

Padmaavat: Deepika-Shahid mediocrity covered in jewels, Ranveer not convincing

This film is not about Padmavati, the Rajputs or Alauddin Khilji. 'Padmaavat' is all about Sanjay Leela Bhansali and how he saw an immensely profitable, entertaining Hindi film in a folk tale. It is not that Bhansali doesn't care about authenticity it's just that Bhansali's definition of cinema is Bollywood, thus any script that he works on will eventually turn out to be a full blown commercial entertainer. Every shade, every emotion, every flavour and then some more.

The director plays to the galleries generously and doesn't miss a single opportunity to appease the Rajput community but unlike many others who indulge in formula to embarrass themselves Bhansali is simply the best at making clich├ęs colourful and lively. The craft supports the gripping storyline perfectly; the sequences are breathtakingly beautiful, trademark Bhansali style. Bhansali's canvas is incomparable, the only other Indian filmmaker who can produce similar sequences in terms of technical superiority is Vidhu Vinod Chopra but Mr Chopra needs a lot of focus to deliver a film like this.

The actors completely submit themselves to Bhansali and maybe that is the reason none of them really shine.

Ranveer's portrayal of Alauddin will help him garner critical acclaim & sweep award shows, 'Khilji' cut-outs will be displayed in local barber shops and stuck on windowpanes in buses. Ranveer deserves every bit of the appreciation and adulation that he is about to receive.

Bhansali's biggest strength is also his Achilles heel, craft takes over content yet you don't mind this compromise as the end product is spectacular and the execution emerges as the real hero of the film.

In Padmaavat the director reduces the principal characters to stereotypical one-liner spitting; larger than life Bollywood stars, no genuine attempt at understanding & essaying the characters of a Rajput king, a queen who is worshipped & a powerful soulless invader.

As a result Ranveer is far from convincing as Khilji, in many scenes he seems similar to Khal Drogo from game of thrones, certain dialogues that he delivers remind you of his Peshwa Bajirao avatar and in some scenes he's simply himself, the eccentric Hindi film star who never fails to amuse.

 Khilji was an unforgiving ruthless conqueror; he ruled by instilling fear in the hearts of every living thing however Bhansali's idea of Khillji seems to be that of a spoilt brat with immense power. The comedy and dance sequences Khilji participates in work for the film in a strictly commercial sense but not for the performer - Ranveer Singh. Khilji is nowhere close to the master class Ranveer delivered in Bajirao Mastani and that is a shame because he is capable of so much more.

Being a one-dimensional actress Deepika Padukone has done very well for herself but she doesn't possess the skill to essay such a character. Shahid and Deepika's portrayal of Raja Rawal Ratan Singh and Rani Padmavati can best be described as mediocrity covered with jewels. Once again, the director is to blame.

The emphasis seems to be on capturing Deepika and Shahid like Rajasthani royalty participating in a fashion show they aren't aware of. There are many sequences where both Shahid and Deepika are completely silent just posing for the camera or for each other, as a result they seem to be silent even when they 'recite' their dialogues simply because barring a couple of scenes they are not impactful at all. Having said that, all of these sequences work, there is never a dull moment and that is the magic of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, he sticks to his strengths even if that means reducing his actors to props.

The only actor who did justice to his role was Jim Sarbh who plays Malik Kafur, the male love interest and general of Alauddin Khilji. Sarbh's portrayal of Kafur is also a hyperbole but everything from his accent to his mannerisms and his expressions demand & deserve your complete attention, he is simply brilliant.

I'm going with 3.5/5 for Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmaavat', this film will not go down in history as one of the best Indian films but it could turn out to be the biggest hit of all time, bigger than Dangal and with some luck Padmaavat could challenge Baahubali's record at the domestic box office.

(Source: India Today)

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