I saw the movie in 3D IMAX Theater. Here are my impressions, to get a full picture, I urge you to read the links appended below, without which, any opinion would be incomplete.
It is a well-made movie, the palace sets are incredible, and even the jungle scene, the falls and the battlefield were all done fairly well. However, Bahu Bali still leads the pack in extraordinary sets and graphics.
Bhansali has done something no other movie producer has done for Indians, particularly Hindu Indians. When we see Mogul Movies or Roman Movies we walk out impressed with the grandeur of the lifestyle of those kings. Bhansali has filled that vacuum for Hindus of India by making grandeur sets, palaces, and clothes. Modi tried to paint ancient India with Superior surgeries and vimanas that most Indians did not buy, Bhansali has created a positive glorious past for the Hindu Indians in his two movies I have seen and has done a good job of it. Every community needs to feel proud of the past.
The movie is a typical formula film set in the historical mix of fact and fiction. It is all about a man chasing a woman. He is obsessed with her beauty and will do anything to get her. The movie can be seen from many dimensions including the one-sided romance, How many of us will put everything at our disposal to get that woman or man depending on our gender? It can be seen as another Laila Majnu, Shereen Farhad and Romeo Juliet story, but one-sided romance.
Alauddin is shown as a nut case in the movie and that is the prerogative of the producer, he has got to make money and he did not claim it to be factful either, it is not documentary but a piece of fiction and imagination of a writer.
When the king gets the Queen’s arrow in his heart, in the beginning, they remove it together and within no time he proposes to marry her and she accepts… that was little too quick and too unbelievable for the Desi American youth, where it takes time to know each other and have to date for a while before taking that step. No wonder, there was a gasp in the audience (Desi Kids) and someone made a comment in our row in the theater as unbelievable. But it happens in India, in our youth we easily fell in love with someone in school or college and loved her or vice versa without even talking to her or him. It is an Indian movie and that is our culture.
Alauddin’s obsession of Padmavati reminded me of a song line from film Gumraah, “Kitne diwane thay hum, aap ko pane ke liye” from the song Aap aaye to khayal-e-dil-e nashaad aya. Fortunately, Alauddin never got in a position to say, ” Ghair ka ho ke bhi a husn mere saath to hai.”
I did not see this as an anti-Muslim film at all. In fact, if someone were to be upset, it should be the Brahmans for the role of Brahmachari. He reminded me of Poornayya (Tippu Sultan) and Mir Jaffar. There were three clear instances where he is blamed for the fall of Chittor, and all the chaos he created in revenge. Maya Angelou had said, if you insult someone in public, that person will be obsessed with revenge, in fact, most people hold onto grudges of insult and patiently wait to get even.
To the credit of Bhansali, he has evoked reason and logic in many spots. When Padmavati gives a speech to the Dasis about Jauhar, a good dialogue was delivered. She says something to the effect of the conflicts between Ram and Ravan, Kauravas and Pandavas and then Khiljji and Rajputs is another one. Conflicts are nothing new. Bhansali reduced the conflict to like any another conflict. He must be lauded for doing that.
There was another dialogue where Alauddin says that the time for expanding the boundaries of his Sultanate is paused now, and Padmavati is his focus. Bhansali could have him recite that Krishna Deva Raya (Vijaynagar empire), the Pallavas, The Guptas, Mauryas and Rajput Kings all expanded their boundaries and I have done my share. Of course, it is his film. Samajne wale zaroor samjehingey, jo na samajh hain, they will always get it what they are set to get; ill-will.
Another good scene is Padmavati’s call to escape when Alauddin’s army was praying Namaz. Reverse the scenario, the Karni Sena and BJP would have created havoc.
Alauddin asked the colors be applied to him because the day was Holi – it is a good gesture of respect for the Hindu culture. Reverence for Hinduism is different than fighting for Land or the Beauty. I don’t know if that touch of a message is enough for people to see it or more needed to be done.
Bhansali is just showing what happened once in our history. The practice of Sati was real but is not practiced anymore. There is severe opposition to it, please read the article by Swara Bhasker listed below
Bhansali did not claim this to be facts of history, he acknowledges right at the beginning that it is a fiction adopted from Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s novel. We have seen so many movies, and no matter who makes it, it will be always be tainted by the producer. I would have been upset and taken some action if he had claimed to be history or facts of history. He did not.
Overall it is a good movie.
The struggle to present correct picture continues unabated, and no doubt it is frustrating. Restoring confidence and hope in the new generation of Muslims is still the need of the day. Each one of our kids is capable of doing anything they want if they set their minds to it.
Padmaavat – where are Muslim Protests – Aijaz Zaka Syed
Padmaavat – Story of Vagina by Swara Bhasker
Padmaavat – story behind story by Dr. Syed Amir