Even a poignant tale like Devdas suffered grandeur in the hands of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. It is therefore not surprising that Padmaavat – with or without an ‘I’ follows the excess paradigm. His recent success at the box office with Ranveer and Deepika propels the excess further. Nothing succeeds like excess. Spiced with controversy, SLB only needed the theaters to breath easy. D-day has arrived. Set to a scale that could make the likes of K. Asif and Kamal Amrohi blush, this Bhansali outing makes for a tired view more than an interesting view.
The tale is roughly sketched around the early hours of the Khilji King Allauddin (Ranveer) who through a palace coup kills his uncle (Raza Murad), marries his daughter Meher (Aditi Rao Hydari) and then sets his eye on the Marwar kingdom and its queen.
Alongside is the Marwar story of the King Ratan Singh (the talented Shahid Kapoor) who falls head over heels for hunting lass Padmavati (Deepika)- shades of inspiration from the Baahubali trip. Smitten by her beauty he brings her to his kingdom as his lawful wife. The in house Koutilya without cause does a floor crossing and decides to join the Khilji camp.
Allauddin on a maniacal trip decides to attack Mewar. Every poor trick in the book is employed. In contrast the heroic of the Rajputs is in full evidence. Even the marginally initiated would know that this led to the historic Sati. The film starts with the expected disclaimer on historic
authenticity. It also makes clear that it does not glorify sati. What it fails to state is that historic event is bathed in heroics. Morality is always time denominated. Yuga dharma. The clash between Allauddin Khilji and Rattan Singh is a black and white conflict. We have Bhansali go over board with signature aplomb. It is a style that he is prey to and this time the script even justifies it.
Unfortunately the cast especially Ranveer and Deepika fail to deliver. As the gluttonous, lecherous, loquacious Khillji, Ranveer looks and behaves more like Godzilla than Khilji. Deepika is neither the feisty Ram Leela protagonist nor the temptress of Bajirao. Her emotive skill sets are lost either behind the heavy jewelry or the poor script. It is Shahid Kapoor, notwithstanding his comparative diminutive personality comes out with a dignified performance. In this Royal battle of kings and queens, the Jodha Akbar royalty is conspicuously absent. The finale of Attack Vs. Invade leading to the sati ceremony is totally devoid of dramatic moments, simply because it defies the law of elasticity.
Obviously the roar against the content of the film and the allegation that it brings down the aura of a certain clan is a wolf call. Much ado about nothing.
This Padmavati is not a face that could launch a thousand ships. It is a script that gives more importance to the sets than to anything else. If you are satisfied watching some amazing backdrops and sets and fine cinematography this Bhansali offering is worth defying the Karni Sena or those threatening a safe visit to the theatres.