*mild spoilers disclaimers apply*
As a movie buff, I generally watch most movies within the first few days of release, and for Padmaavat, I had to see it first day first show, thanks to all the hype and hooplah. Thankfully, there was no presence of Karni Sena or their subsidiaries in my town, but nevertheless there were a few police personnel stationed just outside the cinema hall which almost never happens.
While I was anxious to see the movie, I was also anxious to know what is the Karni Sena protesting about? What parts of the movie could have hurt Rajput pride, to the extent that they resorted to burning vehicles and random vandalism? What aspects of Deepika Padukone’s character as Rani Padmavati made them threaten her? Is all the commotion, senseless agitation & destruction of property using the Rajput card just a political gimmick to grab headlines, to score political brownie points or worse, a tool to promote the movie?
Let me describe my experience of the movie, which may answer some of the above questions.
The movie begins with Alauddin Khilji with an ostrich, asking his uncle for his daughter’s hand in marriage. But on the day of marriage, he ruthlessly kills a confidant who stops him from making out with another woman while his bride Mehrunissa waits outside. He then goes on to kill his uncle ruthlessly to become the Sultan.
Khilji is a beast, a monster who is power-hungry. He is shown as salacious man who eyes and sexually abuses women, but also has a romantic bond with his chief aide and “begum” Malik Kafur, who is a slave brought to him as a present by his now dead uncle. A desperate, loyal, gay servant/confidant played by Jim Sarbh. Khilji’s debauchery is for all to see and there is no doubt over the same. Ranveer Singh has played the demon, the beast to absolute perfection. So yes would you question me for wondering what was all a brouhaha when they said Khilji is being ‘shown in good light’, the movie was a distortion of history etc.?
Then we move to the main heart of the movie: Rawal Ratan Singh and Rani Padmavati. Shahid Kapoor with a restrained performance makes a mark. He plays Rawal Ratan Singh who as the ruler of Mewar, places his people, ethics and valour at the forefront, along with defending Rani Padmavati and her honour. He manages to evoke Rajput pride and honour in every scene he is present in, as seen in his now famous dialogue:
Chinta ko talwar ki nok pe rakhe, woh Rajput … ret ki naav lekar samundar se shart lagaye, woh Rajput … aur jiska sar kate phir bhi dhad dushman se ladta rahe, woh Rajput
Or another one, which stayed with me post the movie:
“Keh dijiye apne Sultan se unke talwaar se zyaada loha hum Suryawanshi Mewadio ke seene mein hai”
There are many more such dialogues which are odes to Rajputs and their bravery. His indestructible love for Rani Padmavati is one to be remembered. Again I was left wondering, why would any Rajput man have an issue with this?
Now onto Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati who has been at the receiving end of threats by the Karni Sena goons. Let me say: SHAME ON THEM.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Deepika Padukone have absolutely honoured Rani Padmavati. She is stellar, whose grace, ethereal beauty and valour all shone bright! She is depicted as a strategically thinking woman who respects Rajput culture and tradition and carries it forward. Deepika has managed to embody the character – the beauty and courage of Rani Padmavati. This is a wonderful example for today’s youth to know about Rajput women and their sacrifices.
Further, some “reviews” say that by the end of the movie, a viewer almost feels sorry for Khilji. This issue was raised by some who sympathize with the Karni Sena’s objection as an example of how Khilji was shown ‘good light’. As a viewer, I did not feel the slightest pity for Khilji. His character is such that it is very hard to empathize with him at any level. I would rather question the viewer who feels pity for such a barbaric villain.
Every scene, every other dialogue, every other frame is a shout out to Rajput heroic history. It is perfect balance between Rajput honor and bravery on one side, and a menacing, lecherous, power-hungry Alauddin Khilji on the other, set amidst jaw-dropping sets, spectacular costumes and top-notch background score.