Thursday, 25 January 2018 13:43

Padmavati: Where the unscrupulous win the battles

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Tired of hearsay and all the hype, decided to watch the first day first show of Padmavat. I don’t usually review movies but a few rare ones mandate that I do.

I won’t go into the storyline, we all know it too well. I’ll get straight to the main highlights of the film. The film, on the face of it, appears a magnificent work of art and a true to the book, if there can be any.

The main character, Rani Padmini, is depicted well by Deepika Padukone. The movie has done a graceful depiction of Rani Padmini and one learns why, of all the queens and princesses of Rajasthan, Rani Padmini of Mewar (on whom the character of Padmavati is based on) is revered and worshiped by all.  Her high code of conduct, her grace, her strategic ways put her above every character in the movie. Deepika's work is a fitting tribute to the great woman.

Raval Ratan Singh is also shown as a Rajput King of high morales and code of ethics. Sometimes irritatingly ethical as he keeps giving leeway to the enemy Khilji letting him go when he could’ve been killed or imprisoned- because ethics. He’s a true specimen of the heavy baggage of puritanism that Hindus carried which served them no good when faced with enemies devoid of any honour or ethics. Acting-wise, this is one of the serious works by Shahid Kapoor.

Which brings us to Khilji. He’s been shown as he was – a wayward, lustful, corrupt barbarian. A backstabber, a liar, a man with no honour. Also shown in the movie is his Gay lover, Malik Kafur and their conversation which shows how close their relationship was. 
However it avoids showing Khilji destroying temples, abducting and castrating slaves, spitting into mouths of Hindus, turning soil red with innocent blood and killing children on the heads of their mothers.

The film doesn't change much at the surface. It takes the work of Md Jayasi, his depiction of Rani Padmini, and makes them come alive and how. 

On a casual view it shows how Islamic invaders were people with no principles and kept going back on their word, the backstabbers. Ratan Singh is shown to be a man who suffers because of his principles especially since Khilji is devoid of it. Perhaps for the first time in modern Indian cinema do we see an apt depiction of valour of Hindu warriors and how bravely they fought. Also how rock hard the hearts of their mothers were who raised such bravehearts.

It also shows how all other Hindu rulers bowed in front of Khilji against Ratan Singh that ultimately led to the fall of Mewar. A bitter truth of opportunism and disunity in our past from which we fail to learn till date. The last scene of course, the highest point of the movie, that of Jauhar shows the ultimate high moral code of Rajput women and again, the moment makes every ounce of your blood rise in revulsion against the invaders and the backstabbing traitors among our own.

There are quite a few factual discrepancies here and there but that's not where the real play is. The real affect of the movie is at a subconscious level where it places the notion - that no matter how principled, ethical, brave and honourable you are, you are still weak against the marauding, barbaric, unscrupulous islamic invaders because ultimately- they win. Also fills you with disdain for a brahmin who's shown to be the traitor guy shrewdly planning the entire plot to help khilji win(another artistic liberty taken by the moviemaker). The weakness, treacherousness of few Rajput Kings overshadows the valour of all others. It shows them as a greater villain than Khilji.

This what an audience takes home- we have been a bunch of blithering fools who could not unite and plotted against each other and also that it's ok to be of low, fallen, character as long as you can win.

The movie had the potential to be a tale of our struggle as a nation, as people who have always held our honour above our life. Ends up telling the audience that all our bravery and honour was inferior to barbarism and shrewdness of our enemies. Its an attempt at genocide denial by romanticising too much a gory invader.

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