Pic Credit: News on Screen
We had almost a paranormal experience last evening.
While watching Padmaavat at an audience in Kolkata, time seemed to have stood still. And not in a good way. The Padmavati saga dragged so much so that till intermission we thought the film was over. It was a weird aging feeling while watching this piece of misplaced bling.
The film starts with long credits and a photograph of a dog. While we are always up for some artistic freedom and animal rights, film credits seem a tad unlikely platform to show one’s love for pets. And while we were dealing with that came the disclaimers which as we all know have been inserted under court order. Perhaps that explains the typographical errors in the text. But then for the sake of the fancy multiplex ticket prices we had paid, this was not the time to nit pick.
As we got ample opportunities to do that later.
The first shock is the shoddily animated ostrich created by special effects. It seems that the producer ran out of budget – what with the heavy ghagras and jewels and payments to costume designers. Hence there was no fund to hire a decent graphic designer and somebody at office had to make the animation with any open source free software. In fact as we were to realise later, the whole movie is an overdose of such poor amateurish special effects. Also, the editing is terrible. Although Bhansali starts of like a fairy tale, the narrative lacks flow. We can’t recall exactly how many scenes were cut out due to court order, but that perhaps made the progress very choppy.
The opulence route director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has travelled in this film is his familiar path. We have seen him dish out period bling in Bajirao Mastani and Ram Leela. The palace set in Padmaavat seems to be assembled from Bajirao Mastani while Padmavati’s (Deepika Padukone) love scenes – rolling on the floor etc. – are completely Ram Leela. There is also a sense of deja vu of the chilli powder throwing scene from the cult movie Mirch Masala. Yawn!
The script is also inconsistent. It is a period film and while the setting is rather primitive, the actors off and on dish out modern day women’s lib lines. Head held high – nose upturned – speaking about equality of men and women – that is Padmavati for us. And such a speech by Padmavati brings us to the much discussed Jauhar scene. This part of the film, as expected is long and boring. Punctuated with religious slogans, the Jauhar is clearly the highlight.
The director could have used this situation to highlight the helplessness or the courage of all the women jumping in the fire. But sadly, all this is lost under bales of yardage in lehengas and ornaments and Padukone’s blonded hair flowing in the wind. Given that it was almost 3 hours since we had entered the audi I wouldn’t mind jumping into something myself.
Deepika as Padmavati is stiff in the dance scenes. While some have attributed her lack of flexibility to the heavy costumes, let’s face it – she is no dancing diva. Give her a Piku anyday and she’ll show you what she is made of. Any case, the film belongs to Ranveer Singh who plays Alauddin Khilji. He has got all the meaty scenes and literally so. He eats meat like a beast and has false scars on his face which could peel off any time. The elaborate costume compliments his frame and this actor acts – err – overacts with elan. Meanwhile the whole world seems to be conspiring against Shahid Kapoor playing Padmavati’s husband, the king of Mewar Rawal Singh Rajput in this film. His slim frame, boyish charm and undertone lines get in the way of being taken seriously. So when he goes into soliloquy mode about the bravery of Rajputs, it all sounds hilarious – like a spoof.
And speaking about paeans about Rajput bravery, the film is all about mouthing that. Everybody seems to have the same lines and they go on and on as to what Rajput bravery is all about. Which behooves the question why is Karni Sena or any other Rajput supporting body upset? If anything, this film promotes Rajput glory like no other. The Karni Sena etc. protests seem like a pre-release publicity stunt all to create a buzz or a boom.This film may work for people who like watching richness – heavy clothes and ornaments – elaborate sets lit with lamps – song and dance numbers with many dancers on big screen. But do we recommend this for others? Why not? Go watch Padmavaat – afterall misery likes company.