Author: Dr. Mandar V. Bichu

Year: 2018
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Aditi Rao Hydari

Will it ever see the light of the day? Or will the flames of political protests and mindless arson burn it to ashes? The whole socio-political drama surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest epic ‘Padmavati’, which was renamed under censor pressure to ‘Padmaavat’, kept the audiences on tenterhooks and made multi-national companies issue advisories to their employees against watching it!

Thankfully the movie got released under Supreme Court’s directive and has got the box-office and the celeb-tweets buzzing. So how is the much-debated movie, which is supposedly derogatory to multiple factions for multiple reasons?

What’s the plot?

Based on Malik Muhammed Jayasi’s 15th century poem ‘Padmaavat’, the film presents a popular historic fable of Rani Padmini (also known as Padmavati), that has become part of Indian folklore for ages.

It is the thirteenth century India. The Delhi throne is occupied by Alauddin Khilji, a wicked, cunning Sultan with an unending lust for power and flesh. When he comes to know about Padmavati, an ethereally beautiful queen of Mewar, he decides to attack the Rajasthani kingdom to capture her. The king of Mewar, Maharawal Ratan Singh and his brave army thwart Khilji’s evil plans for a while but will their resistance hold up when the Sultan would return with more force and firepower? With the defeat staring in her face, how will the valorous queen save her and the state’s honour?

What’s hot?

  • As usual, Sanjay Leela Bhansali spares no effort to turn this epic fable into a big screen spectacle. The sets, locations, costumes, ornaments, sound designing, CGI-effected war scenes, music and choreography are top class. The typically beautiful SLB framing is evident once again. As a lavishly mounted period film, Padmavat is indeed praiseworthy.
  • The three main protagonists- Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati, Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Allauddin Khilji do full justice to their characters. Ranveer Singh easily takes the acting honours. He has gone an extra mile to paint this vile, vicious character with elan. It is an award-worthy performance.
  • From the side-cast, Jim Sarbh as Khilji’s trusted slave Malik Kafur, Aditi Rao Hydari as Khilji’s queen Mehrunnisa and Raza Murad as Sultan Jalaluddin Khilji are impressive.

What’s not?

  • Like many of SLB’s past offerings, Padmaavat too relies more on gloss and glamour, and lacks a strong emotional core. The film, visual splendor notwithstanding, does not manage to tug at the heartstrings.
  • After a brisk and interesting first hour, the film becomes very sluggish. Even a much-divisive fiery climax does not really lift it to any great heights.
  • The song-and-dance sequences are decorative and do not contribute much to the story-telling.
  • Surprisingly, more than the virtuous Padmavati and the courageous Ratan Singh, it is the scarred, debauched Alauddin Khilji who impresses the most!


As the detractors and opponents vehemently keep protesting, Padmaavat has gone on to win the box-office approval. It is a grand extravaganza based on a historic fable, which apparently happened in the thirteenth century and was written about in the fifteenth century. Factual inaccuracies, black-and-white characterizations and unintended glorification of regressive practices are somewhat inevitable in such endeavors. The clear disclaimers (‘Work of fiction’) and creative licensure are valid defenses from the film-maker. In any way, this film doesn’t show Rani Padmavati or Rajput community in poor light. In fact, the film almost goes overboard in highlighting their exalted place in history.


3 stars

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