I was first introduced to this magnificent world in Rajasthan way back in 2008. I went on a school trip, “Chittorgarh” was one of the many places we visited.
There were so many reasons that glued me to the place & it’s wonderful history(thanks to my story teller a.k.a local guide).
- It’s the second largest fort in Asia.
How a srilankan princess went on to become a Rajput queen.
How the king “Ratan Singh Rawal” stood by his morals & dharmas until his last breath.
How the Queen Padmavati smartly rescued her husband who was cheated and prisoned by Alauddin Khilji.
How all the women of the palace went on to sacrifice their lives with an ancient Hindu tradition/superstition “Jauhar” rather than surrendering to a wicked sultan.
The opulent architecture.
And the list goes on…
Today, when I went to watch the premiere of the film “Padmaavat”, that’s released after facing a lot of controversies, allegations & drama. All those agitating over how Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat would trample all over Rajput pride, you may rest easy: the director didn’t need a memo from the Karni Sena and all the other self-styled ‘armies’ on keeping it ‘sanskaari’ – his entire film is a relentlessly opulent, magnificently-mounted paean to Rajput ‘aan baan shaan’.
I personally felt super proud to be belonging to a Rajput khandaan like never before. A story beautifully presented keeping all the Glory, dignity & grace that Rajputana is known for.
The film, as clarified by Bhansali, is based on the legend of Rani Padmavati, a legendary Rajput queen mentioned in the Awadhi-language poem Padmavat, written by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi. Padmavati (Deepika Padukone) is a free-spirited princess who loves to hunt in the jungles of Singhal. And on one such plucky hunt, she chances upon Rawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor), the Rajput ruler of Mewar, who is searching for precious stones (motis) to fulfill his wife’s command. Given the exceptional combination of beauty and brains that Padmavati is, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the two immediately decide to get married.
While the royal love story is brewing, there’s another power-hungry Turkish-Afghan ruler, Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh), who, upon setting his eyes upon anything exquisite (nayaab), doesn’t breathe a sigh of relief until he’s in possession of it. After taking over the Delhi sultanate, Khilji is told by a priest Raghav Chetan that if he wishes to be the true Sultan of Hind, he needs to have Padmavati by his side and rule the Rajputs. Soon after this, he’s almost possessed by the idea of Padmavati and decides to lay a siege on the Chitttor Fort in Rajasthan. With no surprises, the film follows the exact trajectory of the poem and builds up to the large-scale jauhar, self-immolation of the women to protect their dignity, as their men sacrifice their lives on the battle field.
Deepika is an epitome of grace and she delivers a knockout performance as a Rani yet again. Her portrayal of Padmavati is all things ethereal and keen. And even though she doesn’t have many dialogues, it’s her eyes that do the talking. Plus, her being a strategist in times of conflict, gives her an edge. Shahid does a controlled act of the righteous king and does full justice to his part. With kohl-ed eyes and an impressive build, he looks the part. But the film only and only belongs to Ranveer Singh. He is in top form and doesn’t bat an eye lid while playing a character so black and honestly, despite being an anti-hero in the film, he actually makes you root for him. He is eclectic and wins every scene he is in. His eccentric moves and dialogue delivery make him an ever-ideal fit for Khilji. As a menacing ruler, who is atrociously self-consumed with the idea of victory and becoming the Sultan and gaining possession of all things exquisite, Khilji’s depiction might raise some eyebrows but as far as performance goes, no one could have done it better than a meat-mincing Ranveer.
There’s also Aditi Rao Hydari as Mehrunisa, wife of Alauddin Khilji, who makes the best of what little screen time she gets and Jim Sarbh, who plays Malik Kafur, an eunuch slave-general of Khilji. Both do a decent job with Sarbh going over-board in some scenes.
Special mention to the cinematographer “Sudeep Chatterjee” for bringing such a wonderful vision of Bhansali to life. Every frame is lit up sooo well & is a feast to watch.
And none of this could be possible without the mastermind behind this epic Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali”, who did the writing-music-direction of this motion picture that’s larger than life & an absolute magnum opus.
I being a cine buff & always heart period drama am in total love with this. THIS story has lived in me ever since I heard it first during my school trip, watching all the incidents exactly on screen with such brilliance was magic. I don’t know for how long this film is going to haunt me now. I’m thoroughly satisfied & proud of “Padmaavat”.