Padmavat: Bhansali’s cinematic aura and an engulfing Khilji are the standouts in this sufficiently entertaining period drama

The Cinema Station’s Rating: Third AC journey (3.5/5)

Starring: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari, Jim Sarbh

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

With all the buzz around, Bhansali and co. did not need a lot of publicity or advertisements for their latest period drama. Despite a lot of fingers pointing at the substantiality and the authenticity of the story, Padmavat does manage to clear a lot of ground and ends up being another feather in Bhansali’s cap. Deriving its storyline from Jayasi’s version, Padmavat’s grandeur is nonparallel but at the same time, the film suffers from something I would term as “enhanced attention on acting skills” in the film world.

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Without wasting much time the film reveals its frontline characters including Shahid Kapoor as Rawal Ratan Singh and Deepika Padukone as Padmavati. What’s interesting is the route Mr. Bhansali follows in order to get the Rajputs and the Khilji’s face to face and no matter how authentic and well directed it is, it tends to slacken the process for someone who is not aware of the chronology and significance of the events.

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If you have known him and his films, a Bhansali film never falls short of a binding screenplay with sharp and punchy dialogues. The script and screenplay of Padmavat bring forth cracking dialogues delivered in Hindi, Urdu and Rajasthani dialects, which despite a traditional touch manage to set the scenes ablaze at times. The cinematography, locations and camera angles do complete justification to the production costs and Mr. Bhansali’s image as one of Bollywood’s finest. While the costumes sparkle and dazzle, the music goes hand in hand with the time depicted, as we see a combination of both, Rajasthani folk and Sufi background brace the film.

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Now, the part which I wanted to talk about the most, the acting. We all know a Bhansali film is never shy of powerful on-screen characters and Padmavat is just another proof of this claim. Ranveer Singh’s character casting of Alauddin Khalji is splendid. He may not be as ghastly and treacherous as Christopher Nolan’s Joker, but Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Alauddin is one of the most perfect villains played by anyone in a long time. Not to forget Anurag Kashyap’s Raman from Raman Raghav 2.0 last year. With every scene featuring Khilji, the film takes a slightly interesting turn, which made me woo him more over the leading lady, Padmavati.

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Deepika is rock solid in her character, but it takes really long for her virtues and boldness to become a part of her on-screen personality. Shahid Kapoor continues his love affair with his characters as his dynamic as Rawal Ratan Singh completely engulfs the charm and pride of a then Rajput ruler. However, the Shahid-Deepika chemistry is palatable but lacks the charisma that the Ranveer-Deepika pair shared in Bajirao Mastaani. The supporting cast that ropes in small but impacting performances from Jim Sarbh as Malik Kafur and Aditi Rao as Mehrunisa make a major impact on the flow of events in the films.

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As this journey nears its ending station, Padmavat gets gripping as every scene passes. With magnanimous war scenes to the bold and gutty Jauhar scene, the film touches a different level as another Bhansali romantic tragedy looks to end its course with utmost grandeur. After a gripping 180 minute running time that does not begin on a very strong foot, Padmavat ends adding a feather of glory and respect to Rajput honor and simultaneously doing utmost justice to the story of Padmavati that has been carried over the ages.

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