What could you possibly say for a movie that’s dying to be seen? Trying to breathe in a world that is not of its time. Padmaavat movie tried hard to be seen, finally battled its way to fruition and was successful in slapping itself on the big screen, to the very place where it belonged. A movie should be watched because it is meant to be, just like a book that always manages to find a reader. We understand the very purpose of it, the very essence of its creation. You cannot stop what’s destined.
Padmaavat was a fully flawed movie with plenty of mistakes. It housed issues aplenty but did it deserve all the hate even before it made its way to the theatres? All I could remember is resonance. People who did not even know the supposedly esteemed woman, resonated at the same frequency of the mass. A perfect paragon of what our society is – a brainless resonating blob. Incapable of thinking their own minds out loud. We are not afraid of what we might say, but how one would react to it. And if we are on the same pedestal then we have a means to rise up strong.
Why does it affect us? Why does any of it affect us? If a person whom we haven’t seen is revered so much, why not a person who we see deserve our reverence? Are we supposed to wait for our veneration, say about a generation? Are we supposed to wait for our voice to echo and be effectual, about a lifetime? Can we only talk about the dead when they are gone so that they don’t have a say in what we do?
It goes without saying that a billion of us wouldn’t even know who Padmavati was unless someone either wrote about it or made a movie on that topic. I think to remember is to pay tribute, and that should be it.
The Brilliance of Padmaavat Movie
Before getting into what issues Padmaavat movie had, I would like to celebrate it, not only for coming out strong from a place of death and destruction but also for standing tall as a victor. There are no Senas capable enough to fight the educated part of the country, who are aware of the rights, and who stand by the constitution and respect it more than an unfortunate story. Those who have watched it despite the threats are the true victors. You showed ’em, alright!
What truly stands out in Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s movies is its screenplay and its dialogues. I was looking forward to that bit in particular. And must I say, I wasn’t at all disappointed. They were extremely well written by, apparently, a poet who understands what it is to bind a word. His words have been well converted and they feel music to the ears. They are very descriptive and poetic in nature.
Ranveer Singh as Khilji
SLB scores yet again in theatricalization of even a normal conversation. But sometimes he overdoes it, which I would talk about in the next section. The next big thing about the flick was, hands down, Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji. He recreated the magic that he had created in Bajirao Mastani. His acting is by far the best we have seen, and it is amazing that he has fallen under SLB’s stamp. He is one of the only great things about Padmaavat movie. He literally makes every scene lively.
Ranveer has been branded and presented as a mad dog whose hunger for winning wars was peerless. If there was a better actor he would have probably failed to give Khilji that touch of finesse that Ranveer so brilliantly aces. He has that natural knack for it, that getting into the skin of Khilji didn’t seem like much of a problem for him.
One cannot also overlook his energy which is simply hard to match. Even with its songs that play as celebrations, he is so committed to the role that you don’t see him fidgeting at all, even when you realize that SLB has deliberately asked him to look at the camera while dancing. A well-choreographed move to instill immediate intimidation and admiration for all those frantic moves. (Okay, they were maybe a tad funny!)
Funny reminds me of Jim Sarbh‘s performance as Malik Kafur. Somehow his being out of place fitted him extremely well in the Padmaavat movie. He aced his performance as a man trying to find his ground despite being invariably close to Khilji.
Then there is the presentation which as a matter of fact stands precariously at the edge of good and bad. There were some epic scenes that make you marvel at SLB’s creation. But then again there were some scenes that you somehow know could have been shot better.
Issues with Padmaavat Movie
While there were a lot of things to mesmerize you in Padmaavat movie, there were many that leave you pointing fingers at the filmmaking. Cinematography, for instance, wasn’t that great, to be honest. You don’t see the cinematographer panning with characters, or experimenting with the edits. It is kept fairly simple and distant. The latter is something that is quite frankly miffing. Like a scene at the beginning where Ranveer walks in dancing, the camera has been kept really far that takes away the life from his dancing. Sadly, that has been done throughout the movie. Bottom-line, the judgment of cinematography was really poor.
Then there is that bad VFX that literally pops out and pricks your eyes. I mean how hard is it for a widely popular director to hire someone from Hollywood to get it right? Don’t tell me he was running low on resources. That ostrich looked like an unreal animated snake!
Then you cannot overlook the evident set in the first meeting of Padmaavat and Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor). You could literally feel the floodlights illuminating the make-believe jungle. A laughable mistake is that Deepika Padukone has been deliberately “painted” white by the VFX team. In every scene, since the talk is about how beautiful Padmaavat is, she has been intentionally shone like a star. It is alright to stay human, you know! 😀 There is one scene where there is a fire burning in the room which is clearly hitting Shahid’s face but not a flame of warmth or light hits her face. She appears dead white! Ah! the obsession with being fair continues.
Lack of Chemsitry
While there is something really soothing about watching Padmavati slap colors on Ratan Singh in an unearthly artistry and fashion, what you cannot overlook is how hollow it feels. It appears as if there was someone watching them do it and they are supposed to be as presentable as they could be. They cannot be themselves. In doing all of that, both the actors miss out on their chemistry. They look not in love rather like robots put in a scene to enact the presentable. In their endeavour to remove the uggos, they become unnatural.
Then it was Shahid Kapoor himself who felt like a robot Ratan Singh. He was impossible to believe. Apart from the parts where he had had sudden outbursts at Khilji and Padmavati, you don’t see him acting really. He was just standing there trying hard not to screw up and mess his perfect mustache.
Misplaced Poetry in Padmaavat Movie
The final moments where Padmaavati decides to burn herself along with hundred others, that scene I think ended up losing its gargantuan import. There is something huge about voluntarily putting yourself into the fire. Not only does it take balls to do that but it also walks in with apprehension. The audience couldn’t feel their skin tingle as she made her way into the pyre, I think the whole point was lost if you fail to elicit gasps.
You have to make them believe it is fire. (VFX guys you screwed it up again!) What it could do to you, despite that knowledge you are plunging into it, it is something inexplicable. With SLB’s version of showing Padmavati walking into it with Khilji failing to catch a glimpse, felt all theatricalized for cheap thrills. The whole point of the end, the real substance in it went missing. It should have torn us apart, but unfortunately, it didn’t.
Like too much of theatrics at times messed with the flow. Like how the figurative became literal when the Pandit picked up the fire (weird looking fire of course) and swallowed it. It was like….whaaaaaaat? Why do you have to actually do it to prove the heft of your words?
Prior to the final war, when Khilji couldn’t sleep and he decides to wait for Padmaavati to show, there was something poetic about that scene that unfortunately wasn’t milked properly. That wait, that imaginative wings Khilji might have fluttered for an unseen face, I felt a poetry lingering in those frames. To put a face to a name, to paint a picture in your head of a beauty one has only heard praises about. I think that were some of the important junctures that were overlooked.
Wars Taking Lives Forever
How hard is it to see that war was never good? That nothing of value ever emanated from ashes. The very hypocrisy of it drapes all those who have decided, influenced by the brainless, to not watch a movie. They chose to pick their weapons as if war is still a solution to everything. Those who don’t have a voice, they are the ones who pick a sword because it is easier to pluck one out of their time-loop than to go through all the trouble and embarrassment of facing them. Isn’t that right?
The reasons on which wars were fought were never fair. It isn’t still. Why should a soldier fight for a cause that’s written on something so petty as one’s desire? How could one possibly fight for something so trivial?
Was Amir Khusrow just a poet who did not understand the pointlessness of war? Or was he just as rabid as Khilji who chose to suppress his emotions for the crushed? Padmavat isn’t interested in that answer. It is just interested in how a man was unable to see a woman, as he lived unfulfilled. That she chose death over becoming someone else’s plaything.
The Final Verdict
Padmaavat movie is a victim of time. It could have been just in its own period. Maybe if they recreated a scene from it back then, maybe it would have made the mob happy. But why are we concerned about what a group of people think, right?
Why is Padmaavat so revered into the heads of the people that they have decided already to severe heads of those who even tried to project a mortal as a mortal? Then why is the Ramayana still celebrated through Ram Leelas all across? Why are heads not rolling for that epic story? Is it because it’s not a victim to groupism?
India is a land of constant struggle. Was that just independence that we craved for? Or was it something more? Maybe a little bit education to understand what’s beneath us. What’s beneath us is just ground. You think we have learned to think broad, but we haven’t. It is just the attire we copy from the West. Our minds are decadent, still reeking of stories from the past. It wasn’t our time, and yet we live it as if it were. That whatever happened, whatever mistakes people, who roamed the earth like dinosaurs, committed, were all just.
They were wrong, maybe in their time they would have been right, but they would still be wrong in choosing to take lives even if it wasn’t theirs to take. The flick lives you with a dozen questions until you start questioning your very own conscience.