Cast: Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Jim Sarbh
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
There is nothing new in this flick. We have already seen enough of Bansali’s architecture in the past and his exaggerated scenes far from reality. The film was originally named Padmavati, while its released as ‘Padmavat’. However, don’t expect the change of name in the film. It’s a story of a Rani Padmavati, second wife of Maharawal Ratan Singh, king of Chittor. Ratan Singh encounters Padmavati in an accident, eventually returns to Chittor along with Padmavati as his bride. Singh punishes his Acharya (a Brahmin Preist) and sends him out of kingdom. The king did not kill Acharya because killing of ‘Brahmin’ is against ‘Rajput Dharma’.
The Angry Brahmin then goes to Delhi to meet Alauddin Khilji, sultan of Delhi, to describe the unparalleled exquisiteness of Padmavati. Since he wants to possess every “nayaab cheez” (unique thing) in the world — attacks Chittor to get her for himself. After another chain of events, Padmavati kills herself along with all the female adults and children of Chittor in the practice of jauhar, (Sati).
In this world created by Sanjay Leela Bansali, you will find all those appreciated elements by the extremists we have today in the society. It leaves no stone unturned to justify the patriarchal stupidity to the Rajput’s self worshipping and heroic self praising. Not to forget the portrait of ‘good’ Hindu hero against the ‘evil’ Muslim villain. It appears that Bhansali’s goal is clear: to praise Rajputs and demonise the Khiljis, to satisfy the larger Hindu Right via Rajputs by slandering a Muslim king.
The movie starts off with long legal disclaimers saying that the film makers or the actors does not intend to support/glorify the practice of ‘Sati’ but ends with closing remarks praising the same act, the sacrifice of Padmavati as if it was the best thing she could do along with several other women, including a child and one who is heavily pregnant, jumps into fire to avoid being violated by enemy soldiers. And yes, none of the film makers support this act except while presenting the act in a brazenly glorified manner with emotional dialogues and background scores.
In this Banzali’s world, a queen, Padmavati an admirer and strong follower of Buddha Dhamma is also a hunter and easily falls for a king whom she doesn’t know, may be because she was a female and King was a Rajput!
In a scene before the climax, Rani Padmavati has a conversation with the mother of Badal, a loyal soldier in her kingdom, who sacrifices his life to rescue his king. Badal’s mother says that the Rajputs are not dead in the battle field, they become martyrs only. That’s when Padmavati realises why are the Rajputs Brave... she says “it is because they are born to such brave mothers”. This scene comes after several scenes where the Rajputs praise themselves and keep justifying their foolish decisions.
Imprisonment of the King and the death of 800 soldiers including Badal was the result of foolish moves by the proud ‘Rajput’ King called Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) against the common sense advice of his intelligent queen Padmavati. Yet, the stupidity has a justification called ‘Characteristic of a Rajput’. If someone was intelligent than both the egoist kings, it was Padmavati who plays smart polity with a brutal villain to rescue her king.
Alauddin, on the other hand, is a brutal sexual predator who makes out with another woman on his wedding night. He just pounces on his wife whenever he wants to make love, even immediately after the killing of the Queen’s father and brother. He has an effeminate all-purpose male slave Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh) who is described by Badal as the ‘Begum’ of Sultan. Alauddin's personality is all flaws, and no redeeming features.
In fact, the Rajput community that protested against this film should thank Bansali for brazenly glorifying social odds that were once prevailing within this land. The Rajput community has been portrayed in a brightest possible manner. Padmaavat is undoubtedly a film that hinges on the very binaries that underline the thought processes of Hindu supremacists. You may not want to watch this film except to find out what the hell it contained due to which such afoul was created by the right wing or to enjoy the visual treats of Bansali.