What if the antagonist becomes the hero? Padmavat(i) or Allauddin Khilji?

With layered eccentricity and fierce intensity Ranveer Singh’s Allauddin Khilji brings alive the antagonist once again in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic drama, Padmavat.

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Mewar’s Rajput prince Maharawal Ratan Singh(Shahid Kapoor) is at once smitten by Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), Singhal’s charming princess who soon walks into Chittor as the Queen of Mewar. Envied for her beauty and her intellect by Ratan Singh’s first wife, Rani Padmavati also unknowingly evokes her charm onto priest Raghav Chetan. Chetan is ostracised for interrupting the couple’s privacy and in a fit of revenge, provokes the ferocious Sultan Alauddin Khilji to own the Rajput Kingdom along with its beautiful Queen. Battles both physical and intellectual are fought to possess the queen and also protect the gallantry of the Rajputs. But, when Ratan Singh is deceived and killed by Khilji, Rani Padmavati must uphold the Rajput valour by performing Jauhar(the ancient Hindu custom of mass-immolation) with hundreds of other women, thereby defeating Khilji’s purpose.

Bhansali’s grandiose is here to stay with exquisite costumes, lavish sets and (of course) splendid war scenes but lacks an overall essence of magic like his previous films. Nevertheless, be sure to find his signature in the chandelier scene(read Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam) or a gigantic door that closes to leave the characters on either side(read Devdas).

Biting into the character just as he bites his meat, Ranveer plays Khilji with barbaric sumptuousness! While Khilji’s megalomania takes you by both awe and utter disgust, there’s seldom a spark between Ratan Singh and Padmavati’s characters. Deepika’s Padmavati shines in gorgeous costumes, intricate dance movements and expressive eyes but her core character often blends with Leela(from Ram Leela) or Mastani(from Bajirao Mastani). Little is invested in Ratan Singh’s character, who continues to glorify Rajput values in his dialogues, never hitting the right chord. However, Raza Murad and Aditi Rao Hyadri do justice to their special appearances.

The songs except for Ghoomar(already having done it’s fair share of rounds at most Indian weddings) are almost forgettable whereas the background score is decent. The jauhar scene is picturesquely shot while most other scenes that stay with you long after you’ve left the theatres belong to Ranveer Singh, who clearly is the man of the hour.

Padmavat is a one-time watch for its cinematic experience but more importantly for Ranveer Singh’s Allauddin Khilji who constantly asks you, “What if the antagonist was the hero?”

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