Ranveer Singh Walks Away With All The Applause
There is much to marvel about Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmaavat'. A drama of epic proportions, 'Padmaavat' is at its core a story about the fight between good and evil that is set in the 13th century. It's about the romance that gradually blossoms between Maharaja Rawal Ratan and Rani Padmavati and the mad obsession of Alauddin Khilji to get a glimpse of the Maharani.
'Padmaavat' draws you in within the first few moments, transporting you to Maharaja's courtyard, or the Rani's chambers, and even to the war sequences - but most importantly, it takes you into the mind and heart of Khilji, where he grapples with greed of power and lust for women. Directed magnificently by Bhansali, the film's best moments are between the principal characters. Take, for example, the romantic sequences between Kapoor and Padukone. Or when Kapoor and Singh come face-to-face for the first time.
There is no doubt that Bhansali has put together a fabulous team to bring his vision to the big screen, and they do complete justice to the splendour and extravagance of the 13th century. The costumes by Rimple and Harpreet Narula have a regal touch to them. Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee proves once again why he's one of the best in the business. The art direction is brilliant.
Of course, the superlative acting by the trio is the trump card. As the part-feisty-part-graceful Rani Padmavati, Padukone is wonderfully restrained and uses her eyes to emote, making this one of her finest outings on screen. With his understated act, Kapoor stands tall in each frame. But it is Singh who walks away with all the applause. Aided by a character that has multiple layers and is the best written of the leads, he sinks his teeth into the meaty role and makes it his own.
Full marks to Jim Sarbh for taking on the challenge of playing Malik Gafoor. The nuanced way in which his affection for Singh is depicted, deserves a special mention. At two hours and 43 minutes, the film feels long. I can think of two songs featuring Singh that could have been discarded. Another pitfall is that Bhansali doesn't go beyond his template, this time too. He resorts to the usual tropes, like a victory dance number — in this case Khalbali, while his last release 'Bajirao Mastani' had Malhari. The story has too many loose ends. But its biggest shortcoming probably lies in the fact that the film fails to connect on an emotional level. The final scene where Padukone explains why she commits Jauhar might not connect with the audience of today.
The fringe groups had an issue with the film for all the wrong reasons. It's worth a watch because of its magnificent scale and sincere portrayals. But also, because too many people have fought a long battle to bring this movie to the big screen.