Padmaavat is an entertaining and huge play experience, brought to life with the touch of visual brilliance by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The photography is sublime and carries the viewer into a historical and romanticized universe. The Muslim masters of Delhi are harsh, dark, greedy for power and wealth, in contrast to the Rajput king we are made to discover.
The Khilji warrior dreams only of overthrowing the Sultan and will reach his goal. The enchanted setting in which Raja Ratan Singh and the beautiful Padmavati will meet has nothing to envy to the most beautiful fairytale story. The transparency of the image and its soft effects pose our characters as pure heroes. The king gets married very quickly with his huntress dressed in the most beautiful attire in her palace. Here awaits his disillusioned first wife.
A dark guru (sage) becomes embittered with the beauty of Padmavati and is quickly banished by the king. Thirsty for vengeance, the guru fanned the lure of power and profit of the new Sultan of Delhi. He praises the beauty of the queen and remarks to possess her would be an asset in the extent of her power. Unable to possess her, to afflict her with the worst affronts will be his revenge.
Seats, battles and wiles will punctuate the long fight between the terrible Sultan Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) and King Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor). Honor before life or no life possible without honor! That's the motto of the Rajput kings of northern India in the 13th century. The values of chivalry of the time of the nobles is ineffective to get rid of a hideous character willing to get the vision of the princess (Deepika Padukone) and ultimately get humiliated in the worst way.
Around 1540 the Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi recounts in an epic work, the heroic attitude of Padmavati. She prefers to immolate rather than submit to the murderer of her husband. Historical examples of collective suicides to escape the tyrannical conquerors are numerous. For the regions of Rajasthan, Queen Padmavati enhances the glory and purity of Rajput aristocrats by her example. She is an honored and respected figure to the point that temples have been erected in her name.
This powerful image, anchored in the collective unconscious, had already inspired Sanjay Leela Bhansali to direct the opera of the composer Albert Roussel at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. In his feature film, he has engaged all his genius and experience to produce a very sophisticated work. The difference with his Parisian ballet is the current ultra-politicized and nationalist context in India.
The film should find its audience because it is a remarkable work. It is visually very sought after, and interpreted brilliantly. The act of Ranveer Singh is impressive. All the savagery of a being capable of profound baseness is represented here. It is one of his best roles! Deepika Padukone is magnified in her perfect purity from the first shot. She asserts her courageous character over the plot.
Shahid Kapoor charms by his look and the righteousness of his royal stature. The film, however, has some lengths that certainly recall the notion of time, different from this epic period. The attention to detail, scenery, costumes, plunges the viewer into a world of old and unknown, just that, it is a show of choice.
Does the director's insistence on opposing the two camps with very contrasting sets and lights do not reduce the story to a demonstration of Rajput nobility? Does this exaggeration serve the story or is it a concession to appease souls? Will we know if SL Bhansali has cut or rewritten dialogues between December and January? Surely never. Battle scenes are shot either too far or shallow, which disrupts after the epic battles of Baahubali. The aestheticism of SL Bhansali remains its indisputable mastery. It makes you want to see Padmaavat again to savor the precision of the details.
In general, Padmaavat is a remarkable film experience backed by a competent direction, a fascinating script, and a superlative performance. For Sanjay Leela Bhansali, it is the best title in an impressive filmography. The most willing ally of the director in this endeavor is Ranveer Singh, euphorically evil and visceral in his portrayal of villain venal and runaway. He is never short of energy. If he knew how to channel it with greater modulation, he would have turned Alauddin Khilji into a more human being and a little less into the ugly beast he is supposed to be. It portrays the madness of Ranveer Singh and maintains the Rajput sensibility.
If there is something that prevents us from reflecting too much on the film, it is Ranveer Singh. Not once does he try to take us to his land, and that makes us love him even more. As an interpreter, his main asset has been his unpredictability, in a good way. As Bhansali's Khilji, full of scars and out-of-date maniac, it's electric. Ranveer, like Alauddin Khilji, is seen as a deranged barbarian sultan, consumed with a voracious libido of power and flesh.
He unleashes an animal magnetism on the screen with a scarred face, eyes with kohl and a greased torso. But it has enough to dazzle you, so go for the brightness and madness of Ranveer Singh. Ranveer, from whose point of view, the story unfolds, forces you to remain immersed in it all the time. You are destined to hate him, but you will be convicted because you will end up loving him.
Ranveer and Shahid cling to their egos, filling each of their faces with elegance. Shahid, unfortunately, does not have the most interesting character but he is worthy and real like the Rajput man who reveres his honor. Shahid Kapoor offers a moderate performance as Maharawal Ratan Singh with his eyes transmitting his emotions. Shahid Kapoor has a serious, very controlled performance, and he owns literally all the scenes in which he appears.
And finally Deepika Padukone, who is in top form. She is powerful, contained and charismatic, stealing the show, even grandiloquent Ranveer. Deepika Padukone looks beautiful and grows in you as the movie progresses. She will give you goosebumps at the climax. The performance of Deepika Padukone is adequate. She has an ethereal look, a compliment she has heard many times before, especially in Bhansali's last two films. Here, she has minimal dialogues and lets it be her expressive eyes that speak, what works in her favor.
The last nail in the coffin is the lack of chemistry between Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor, which made me long for the pairing between Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan in Jodhaa Akbar (2008), equally prodigiously produced and far superior. In addition, the chemistry and Deepika of Shahid are dazzling. Sparks fly in every scene that they are together.
Padmaavat is bright, extravagant, dazzling, magnificent and wonderful. It is a feast for the eyes. It leaves you yearning for something more significant than a mere repetition of Jayasi's poem. If you are a fan of the Bahubali format of storytelling, Padmaavat will leave you speechless. Everything here speaks of enormity and greatness.
The actors, however, jump to rescue the story. The slow rhythm of the first hour changes right after the intermission. It becomes dramatic, full of events and in that way, more interesting. The film is a visual delight and deserves to be seen only for the beauty of its scenes. Every shot leaves you stunned. We have just seen the masterpiece of SLB and we are impressed with the performance of Ranveer Singh. Good performances hide the flaws of the film. The cinematography, especially the artistic direction and the action scenes are spectacular.
The script is so brilliant that even in dark situations they have an underlying touch of humor. See Padmaavat for its grandeur, beauty and for Ranveer Singh. It is a unique movie in life that should not be missed in theaters. A personal note for Ranveer fans, the best gift of his life awaits them.
Directed magnificently by Bhansali, the best moments of the film are found in the main characters. History has too many loose ends. But its biggest flaw probably lies in the fact that the film does not connect emotionally. The final scene where Padukone explains why she commits to Jauhar might not connect with today's audience.