“Padmawat”-Review

FTV Opinion, By Rashmi Sarkar: The last two months have been rather gloomy and grey  bordering on subtle loss of belief and loss of trust. Movies have been forgotten. My son however felt that he needed a little break from studies and I needed to attempt to be my former self, when he booked these tickets,of course with my credit card.
The next thing I heard from my well meaning, like minded brother in law was that this movie is not to be watched in 3D and certainly not if I am in a gloomy mood as this is rather dark.Well,our tickets had been booked.
Much before “Padmawati” had the most important letter”I” standing for women empowerment taken away by the censors this time,she lived as “Rani Padmini” from my childhood memories. Those days my mother as a History teacher straight after her MA in Ancient Indian History and Archaeology would stop over to look for books at “Atma Ram and Sons”, the book shop in the Punjab University market in Chandigarh, while also buying other groceries. These were my prized moments which I used in browsing over books and Amar Chitra Katha comics trying to devour them as you couldn’t buy all. This is when I chanced upon “Padmini” in Hindi which was tough to read but had me very interested as the beautiful queen committed Jauhar and this was a new concept for me.It was after a severe search I found the English one in another pile after weeks.
So that was “Padmini” in my memory with her “I” still preserved and flash forward to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmawat” of today. Yes, I was still interested.
My history teacher of ninth and tenth class, who fortunately is still a friend on Facebook, had been so good, she had painted these pictures of characters of Alauddin Khilji, Malik Ghafur, the Mongols and their cringe worthy habits of not changing clothes for days, eating meat and sour cream and sleeping in open brasseries while battling, very vividly. I could imagine them in hues of brown,rust and earth colors in my mind and that is how they stayed.I am sure my class mates will remember these words too.
And those are the magical colours of “Padwawat”-shades and hues of brown , rust, dull green, maroons, blacks , as if to offset the heavy gold ornaments of Padmawati and the Rajput women. The subdued colors probably set the somber tone of the movie, as there is always a feeling of impending doom.
In fact the introductory scene of Deepika hunting in the forest devoid of heavy jewellery,makes her look the most beautiful and ethereal.
“Padmawat” has some very good acting from Shahid Kapoor as Raja Ratan Rawal- who is subdued but you want more of him, Deepika Padukone as the free spirited, princess transforming as the queen who advises her husband in administrative matters is a pro in these roles and aptly cast . Ranveer Singh has the large negative, very in your face character and he is undoubtedly going to win the Best Actor in a negative role this year. He is just mean and beast like and horribly dark , ruthless and bisexual . The other character who does full justice is Jim Sarbh as Malik Ghafur, effeminate and cruel. We had read about Malik being the king’s confidante and chief advisor, but the movie is unapologetic about showing him to be the king’s partner. So is Muhrunissa, Alauddin’s wife played by Aditi Rao Hyderi, who does deserve more fleshy parts.
The movie is splendid in visuals and cinematography though a let down in the music department except the VFX covered waist of Deepika song “Ghoomar” which is hummable.
One also wishes the chemistry between Raja Ratan Rawal and Padmawati was more palpable as it was an interesting casting.
The Jauhar scene is drawn out and long and has drawn many debates. Sati was a practice in those times and I was able to talk to my son about Raja Ram Mohan Roy abolishing it and why I admired him a lot. It opens up a lot of questions on gender equality and women’s rights but these exist also outside the canvas of this rust brown movie in real life. Times just change and there are different challenges at different times.
The movie is a little long and perhaps it is not really”Baji Rao Mastani” but still a watchable movie.

Warning : Do not watch in 3D and preferably not in a gloomy mood like me.Of course I could still appreciate its good points.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest offering gets a 7.5 from me, a 6 from my husband and mother in law (who said she really liked it but was strict in her marking somehow) and my son who gave 3 yesterday when he was bored , has changed it to 6 today because of the hard work and tough times the film has been through!