If real-life ‘we are just friends’ couple, Deepika & Ranveer, tie the knot one day, they are unlikely to invite Sanjay Leela Bhansali to the wedding. For three successive movies, SLB has kept Deepika away from her man and only got in unwelcome guests (protests) to the party. Down the years, Padmaavat will only be remembered as a movie that created the maximum pre-release ruckus for minimal justified reasons. The movie’s only mystery lies in why fringe ‘Rajput protecting’ anti-socials protested when the movie has an excess glorification of Rajputs. Everything else about Padmaavat is predictable.
The Thirsty Crow Story
Can you make ‘The Thirsty Crow’ story into a full-length movie? Queen Padmini’s mention in school books actually has much lesser lines than the crow’s dilemma. Ditto for the Peshwa BajiRao and Mastani story. So what’s it about SLB that he manages to generate controversies out of little known historical events? Add Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela; that’s now a hattrick of wafer-thin plots residing amongst a grand opulent canvas and made more news prior to release, than after it. Two hours through Padmaavat, it got so strenuous that my jaws pained with excess yawning. How long can you sit admiring sets, dresses and chandeliers; the same formula, the same ending? Deepika has now been killed for the third successive time, in three movies, by SLB!
India have better historical stories
I agree that unheard or little known stories need to be told; all the more if they are inspirational. The 21st-century Indian history books were initially written by historians and later, over the decades, got hard-edited by the ruling Congress (I) governments. This was to ensure the books generally portrayed Indians as meek, gentle and peace-loving slaves, willing to be plundered. So it’s tough for Bollywood moviemakers to find much inspirational stuff from there, without investing in serious research efforts. The smarter way is to make fictional stories using same time period.
Baahubali has laid the gold standard in making strong, inspirational and sensitive fictional content on a mesmerising canvas. No glorification of regressive customs, brave warriors living in rich kingdoms, independent women calling the shots, sacrificial twists and the staple good-over-evil victory stuff. How come Baahubali manages to avoid any controversy, while SLB dives into every possible one? Does the crow keep dropping in the same stones to get the controversies float up? If you are going to show Mahatma Gandhi doing the disco or Subhash Chandra Bose puffing weed, there will be controversies, isn’t it?
But for the visual delight
Padmaavat is so pretentious on Rajput valour that it should shame all the protestors by now. I also want my ticket money back for not getting a glance of Deepika’s midriff! There should have been protests for covering up so much of the lady’s elegance! On top, the turtle pace sugary scenes between Shahid Kapoor (Rawal Ratan Singh) and Deepika Padukone (Padmavati) are so boring that you want the evil Ranveer Singh (Alauddin Khilji) to come inside the fort sooner and break the monotony. The Khilji ruler – a snarling, grimacing, cruel, unfaithful and gayish psychopath – is far more engaging for the audience. The movie as a whole, only livens up the last half hour when the story picks up some pace and the act of jauhar is well justified – you rather die than be enslaved by such heartless psychopaths.
Aside the detailed grandeur sets, Padmaavat’s biggest strength is Ranveer Singh’s devilish costumes, high energy movements and obsessive demeanour. He lights up the proceedings so much that you end up believing that’s what Khilji in real life would have been like. I eagerly await Ranveer’s next movie. In front of his majestic act, Shahid Kapoor looks a wiry, malnourished, small scale king. That the story doesn’t have much twists reduces Shahid & Deepika to two royally dresses robots blurting similar righteous lines entire movie. The only twist is silly too – the most respected man in the kingdom turns out to be a lusty Ranjeet!
How I wish SLB had used the same sets and made a completely fictional movie, with more twists, matter, creativity and casually over an interview mentioned ‘It’s loosely based on Rani Padmini’s story’. After spending so much money on opulence, why would you leave the plot line to a thin ‘ek jung husna ke naam’ story. But then, controversies assure revenue. For a very average film that you won’t be able to sit through on television, the revenue milking was important.
I don’t know who funded the protests, but it made no sense – aside vandalizing public property, encouraging random stupidity and increasing Padmaavat ticket sales.
Rating : 2.5/5 (averaged with friends)
Verdict: One time big screen watch – to see the irony of the entire mess was much ado about nothing. Plus to be enchanted by the time period, where we wish we lived, as kings and queens!
Box Office : 2nd week, Friday night, suburban hall at Singapore was 80% full. So the movie is attracting audiences and should cross INR 225 crores collections.
Footnote: Padmaavat protests gave India a bad name overseas, but the Ghoomar song from the movie made India proud momentarily Americans danced to it in midst of an NBA game!