If I went to see Padmavat over the weekend it was largely for two reasons: 1. Sheer curiosity for the hype and the hoopla (read that as violence) surrounding it and 2. Because I was not going to have time after the weekend! (So much for being practical)
Naturally, I went with a certain amount of expectations. As also apprehensions.
Would I turn into a stone-pelting viewer once I got out after the movie?
What would I do if I saw a school bus ferrying children? And I saw stones at the same time?
Would I loudly diss the censor board? That too on Facebook? Or would that be Prasoon Joshi? Or SLB himself?
You know the water balloon you pelted during Holi that just did not make its mark? And rolled on the ground listlessly not bursting, not doing its job, much to the delight of your target? That would pretty much sum up the film for me. All that sound and fury was for nothing. Nothing.
The only word – impressive word – I’d use for the film is the scale. The grandeur depicted is massive. The palace, the ambience, the lights, the army, the horses, the battlefield, the elephants – even the computer-generated ostrich was impressive indeed. (Was it worth the gold bangles I sold for the tickets? Nope! But never mind that!) If you’re rolling in the stuff and have nowhere to take your Jaguar out tonight drive by and watch the movie. You might as well decide which of the Tanishq jewellery you will be buying either for yourself or your spouse! (I’ll come back to the jewellery again though). If your Jag is gone for servicing, it’s okay, you may miss the movie. And here’s why.
The film simply fails to take off.
You know the story. Having shot a visiting King with a (so-to-speak Cupid’s) arrow, Padmavati enamours him enough to commit bigamy and moves back in grand style to his palace as Queen No 2. Of course, there’s some kind of animosity from Queen No 1 but that’s to be expected. Then of course there’s a tame parallel plot with Allaudin Khilji wanting to rule the world and suddenly his focus changes to wanting to rule over one woman.
And that’s when the fight started.
Good enough you say, but what resulted in the war is the man’s desire to own the woman. And then there’s war on a massive scale, treachery, betrayal, valour, death – leaving the women – chiefly Padmavati with no choice but to commit Jauhar (self-immolation)
End of story.
So what was the noise all about it? It was story telling on a massive scale. The rioting, the censoring, the noise – just that – noise. What was most disappointing is that even as a film it failed to take off.
The dialogues were blasé at best. Pat. Stilted. And clichéd. The chemistry between a literally wounded king and his attacker was as cold as the cave they were in. The interaction between the Queen 1 and Queen 2, whatever little there is of that, is bo—oo—ring! And the final sequence as hundreds of women in red move towards the fire to commit Jauhar (quite a spectacle again) fails to do anything – almost like the 7-km dream run at the recent Mumbai Marathon.
In all this, Allaudin Khilji, Ranveer Singh stands out as a strong character but it’s almost because he must bear this burden of the film alone. But nowhere does his lust or desire to conquer the woman he is apparently besotted with come out. It’s there and you’re supposed to understand it – or watch out for it as he dances in anachronistic leather boots with great gusto. It’s just because the scale is big and his army is big and the canons that he gets covered in large white sheets are big!
And then – even if this is a story – there are so many anachronisms. The costumes for one – you really did not get the latest Sabyasachi shades of lilac and mint green in those days. Best saved for the Virushka marriage, don’t you think? The men kept wearing Lucknowi embroidered kurtas. Ho hum!
The jewellery though grand was overdone and I do really really hope Tanishq sales have gone up considering we’ve entered the wedding season. (Personally, I liked some of the earrings the men wore! But that’s just me!)
So in the end, disappointing. You can safely miss it. If Padmaavat was an epic poem, this film is an epic fail. Send the Jag for servicing.