By the time the end credits roll, you’d be forgiven for wondering why it’s the right wing that’s taken offence to the film. For it’s the liberals you’d expect to engage in film bashing. The film ends up making a heroine of Queen Padmaavati for performing jauhar. Sure, history tells us that much. But I found it regressive that a film is made to show off this fact as an act of glory.
Yes, there has to be immense individual courage to volunteer for self immolation. But if this courage is deified in the film, then so must the the system and society that encouraged this act be decried. It is not possible that 163 minutes of runtime couldn’t accommodate even one scene that criticizes this heinous practice.
As a film, Padmaavat is more of the same from Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He is a poet filmmaker. Not just in love, but in lust, hate, anger, sorrow – every emotion is a performance of song and dance for him. When he has to depict the battle between the Rajputs and the Khiljis, he eschews epic battle scenes and distills it to a man-to-man sword fight between the two suitors of Padmaavati. And they jump and leap, slide and swing, as two dancers would, the clanging of their swords and shields and armour an orchestra in its own right. Indeed, the grand sets, grandiose dialogue, and not much in between, often gives you a sense of watching a play rather than a film.
There is no doubt that his films stand unique, and are a welcome relief from the standard Bollywood fare we get through the year. As someone who loves epics and historicals, I’d pay – and I do pay – good money to watch the films he makes. For where else will I get to see Allaudin Khilji recreated? I’m a fan of Ranveer for bringing this mad character from history to life. I’m a fan of Shahid Kapoor for giving me a glimpse of the famed Rajput pride. I’m not thrilled that Deepika had to walk through fire to finally get her moment in the film, but she was a cool cat all through even then. And so, I’m glad we have SLB to do what he does.
But I think it’s time he reinvented himself. More and more, his films resemble each other. I’d still watch them every two years, but he owes it to himself, perhaps, to do something different. He’s already proven he’s a master with this genre. It would be good to try something new. Because I would rather remember him as the filmmaker who gave us Khamoshi, not one who crudely mimicked a cult scene from a cult classic to get some applause.
Hindi, Action, Drama, Epic, Colour