A film that has been through a lot since the first day of its production, Padmaavat, formerly Padmavati, reminds us why director Sanjay Leela Bhansali needs to be given due adulation and respect for his vision.

Produced jointly by Bhansali Productions and Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Padmaavat, the epic period drama film has Deepika Padukone portraying Rani Padmavati, alongside Shahid Kapoor as Maharaja Rawal Ratan Singh, Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji and Aditi Rao Hydari as Mehrunisa forming the main cast.

Bhansali, not long ago made it clear the film was based on the legendary Rajput queen named Rani Padmavati as referred in the poem Padmavat, penned by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi.

In Padmaavat, Deepika Padukone as Padmavati is a determined princess who is a daredevil when it comes to hunting in the Singhal jungles and it is on one such adventure where she comes across Shahid Kapoor as Mewar’s Rajput ruler Rawal Ratan Singh. It isn’t a surprise that the two take a liking to each other and in course of time they get married.

As there are two sides to a coin, we are then introduced to a zealous Ranveer Singh as the Turkish-Afghan ruler Alauddin Khilji, one who wants everything that has elegance written over it. After he attains the Delhi sultanate, his priest informs him he would become the Sultan of Hind (Hindustan) only if he were to have Padmavati stand by side and rule over the Rajputs. His obsession to attain Padmavati is menacing and he soon arrives at a conclusion to besiege the Chittor Fort in Rajasthan. 

The rest of the film heads down the path as described in the poem and it is a phenomenon on an epic scale. Sanjay Leela Bhansali deserves all the laurels that will be showered upon him for his efforts in this film as it is no doubt his biggest and grandest work till date. The comparisons to his Bajirao Mastani will be obvious, but he stands out in making Padmaavat a visual splendour with a far more engaging plot. Be it the jauhar or battle scenes, Bhansali comes on top in delivering some of the most epic sequences in the history of Indian cinema.

Where Bhansali is known to make films that are akin to the beauty of painting, cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee has shot the film in a manner that is no less to the filmmaker’s vision. At no point in the film does the editing hinder the progress of the story and the cuts have been executed keeping in mind the flow that needs to be maintained.

Playing a role like Rani Padmavati can be daunting to say the least and Deepika Padukone will have felt the pressure to deliver, but at no point does she falter in her performance and the film is a testimony to her power-packed skills. Not only has she elevated herself as an artist, but has also set a benchmark for her contemporaries to tackle such a role hereafter.

Although Shahid Kapoor may seem quiet at times in the film, he roars in some of the scenes taking us by a surprise. He has evolved from being the boy-next-door to rightfully growing into the role of a king.

The biggest strength of Padmaavat however lies in Ranveer Singh as he has delivered what can be simply termed as a thunderous performance. There is a constant feeling that he cannot be predicted on what he will do next and therein lies the beauty to his raw character.

Aditi Rao Hydari makes the best use of the little screen time she has been given and leaves a notable impression with her striking beauty and histrionic skills.

Visually the songs are compelling, but you get the feeling they aren’t required in the overall narrative apart from the majestic "Ghoomar".

Perhaps the only big drawback many will agree on Padmaavat will be its long runtime. There will be times when you will feel that this story could be told in a much shorter span of time rather than making it such a drag-fest.

For those who enjoyed Bajirao Mastani, this new Sanjay Leela Bhansali epic is one you should not miss if you feel the long duration won’t get to you.

Thumbs Up

A whole new Ranveer Singh
Visually arresting
A team effort that is reflective on the big screen

Thumbs Down

Long runtime

VERDICT: A long epic, but a visual delight.