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Padmaavat Movie Review: A mediocre mess saved by its fabulous performances | PINKVILLA_Chennai Entertainment News

Padmaavat Movie Review: A mediocre mess saved by its fabulous performances | PINKVILLA

2021-1-2

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Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ambitious magnum opus falls short of being spectacular. The first half has a slow pace and too many songs. The film picks pace in the second half. Read the full review.





Shahid Kapoor,Deepika Padukone,Ranveer Singh,Reviews

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As protestors and cops got into a heated argument outside the theatre I was watching Padmaavat in, there was a sense of privilege that I felt while walking in for the movie. Rarely are movie journalists that important in the entire scheme of events, discarded as celeb hounds. We make little of this privilege but today it’s essential to talk to about it and laud the courage of the movie which fought all odds to become the most ambitious Sanjay Leela Bhansali film till date. Breaking the barriers of the typical hero and heroine mould, here the antagonist is the primary character. Or so I wish to believe because in terms of performances, Ranveer Singh topped over everyone else. He is maniacal, menacing and so consumed by the vices of Khilji. He breathes life into the character which is a caricature in history books. Though Bhansali makes him unidimensional, evil and satanist, he is deliciously wicked. I found it the toughest to take my eyes off him. And with him, was the one man who was probably the best thing about a singularly regressive movie – Jim Sarbh as Malik Kafur. It’s fairly bold of Bhansali to keep his leading man’s sexuality dubious and have him openly play along with the homosexual tendencies of his sidekick. Was Khilji bisexual or just an overtly sexual man? Bhansali doesn’t delve deep into that but he ensures that we gather the impression that power drives him – power over a man, woman. His intentions aren’t entirely sexual but the devilish demeanor is beautifully layered and frankly, even if it’s exaggerated, I buy it. 

Something about Padmaavat doesn’t work. The writing is particularly thin and depends too much on its actors. There’s a love story between Raja Rawal Ratan Singh and Rani Padmini and though the chemistry is breathtaking, we never get a sense of how they fall in love. Khilji’s rise to power is briefly elucidated- how he kills his uncle Jalaluddin Khilji or for that matter how his conquests make him overconfident. It’s baffling how a man so shrewd so willingly puts everything on stake just to win a woman he has never seen before. Neither is it established how the turmoil unfolds. The unwillingness to explore the grey areas of the film manifests into its weaknesses. Quite underwhelming, the film for many might not be able to hold interest given the lethargic first half and too many songs.

The actors, however, jump right in to rescue the story. The slow pace of the first hour shifts as soon as the film reopens post interval. It’s rightly dramatic, eventful and thus by default, more interesting. Ranveer and Shahid hold on to their egos, filling each of their face off scenes with poise. Shahid, unfortunately, isn’t given the more interesting character but he is dignified and regal as the Rajput Man revering his honour.

And finally, there is Deepika Padukone who is in top form. She is powerful, restrained and charismatic, holding her own and stealing the show even from the bombastic Ranveer. Good performances conceal every fracture of the movie. The cinematography, especially art direction and stunts are spectacular.

With so much right in the film, it raises serious questions on the relevance of a movie like this. The last act involving Jauhar, and the speech by Rani Padmini which preludes makes you wonder whether we should be propagating these archaic ideas. It’s regressive and over exaggerated. In the climax, a desperate Ranveer runs across the Chittor Fort as she walks into the fire to save her honour. Factually correct, though, the message it sends out is questionable. 

But why not watch the movie still! After all, the blood, sweat and pain of too many people have gone in to ensure the film sees the face of day. And that’s worth more than all the cumulative flaws. To creative freedom and the people who’ve fought a long battle to get to this day, I wish they’d created more than a mediocre movie but then what wouldn’t I kill to see these brilliant performances all over again.

We rate the movie 60% on the Pinkvilla Movie Meter. 

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