It’s been a couple of hours since I’ve seen ‘Padmavat’ sans the ‘i’. But the effect simply refuses to wear off. The grandeur of the cinema that is trademarked Bhansali, speaks volumes about the vision of the man. To etch such visceral imagery on the screen needs craftsmanship and Bhansali is just the auteur for such gigantic landscape. The war scenes, the madness, the close-ups and a climax that brings you to the edge of the seat, they all scream one thing – They don’t make directors like Bhansali anymore. He’s the Baz Luhrmann of India.

Controversy over the material had plagued the film since its inception and is partly responsible for the intricate scrutinies that it is currently going through. Among whispers of several cuts that probably hampered the original storytelling, that was envisioned by the makers, it fails to tell a story convincingly. At times, the writing fails to develop the characterization of Raja Ratan Singh and Rani Padmavati due to the ever towering presence of Allaudin Khilji. It wouldn’t have been surprising if they had the named the movie ‘Khilji’ because more than Padmavati, it explores the aura about the savage beast that Allaudin Khilji was. Hence a strong performance from Shahid Kapoor and an ethereal Deepika Padukone is overshadowed by that chameleon Ranveer Singh.

Some will say, his performance is caricatural as history doesn’t portray Khilji the way Bhansali paints it. It may come as cardboard-ish to some but the viewer in me was immensely satisfied with what was unfurled on the screen. The raw savagery that Ranveer portrays is unheard of. His meanness, his persona of a man who’s devil reincarnated himself is so efficient that you hate the character with all your heart, but admire the performer. The finesse, to which this man has perfected his craft, is worth applauding. Giving Ranveer a run for his money is Jim Sarbh. Playing the slave Malik Kafoor, he just slays it. Watch him and Ranveer gyrating together in an eerily erotic song ‘Bin Te Din’. Absolutely fantastic!

Finally a word about a fringe group of people who call themselves Karni Sena. Other than enabling one to earn livelihoods, education gives one the authority to study and question the doubts. Education empowers one to challenge the system and to bring changes to it. Revolutions are brought to the forefront by those, who learn and then question. Lack of education makes people insecure ending up being a mob, who do plain dumb shit. The so-called Karni Sena, by burning cities, harming innocents and opposing the fundamental rights of the citizens, they inadvertently are channeling their inner Khiljis and shaming the Rajputana valor.

Hope they understand what means to be a true Rajput.

The Cinemawala Rating: 3.5/5

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