|Direction & Cinematography|
Let me start this review by accepting a fact – Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a very talented man; I will have to give him that. He can make anything look visually stunning. His movie sets are a work of art. That is why I think he could have become a great Interior Designer. Dude knows how to make his halls look bigger and grander.
Unfortunately, same can not be said about his abilities as a filmmaker and storyteller. His movies, though visually-appealing lack what makes a film, a film. On the outside, they are bright and full of colors but once you get into the core, you can see how hollow they actually are. Most of his films are marred by lackluster storytelling and are bereft of any redeeming attributes that should have been there to fill that huge void. Padmaavat is another one of those films.
There is a very popular Sanskrit Shloka – अति सर्वत्र वर्जयेत्
Which translates to – Excess of anything is bad.
Padmaavat has an excess of three things (barring stupidity of course) – Jewellery, Huge Sets, and Ranveer Singh. After a while, you get tired of all these things. There is so much gold in this film that every single scene feels like a Nakshatra Jewellery advertisement. I don’t know if the cinematographer deliberately used that warmer-yellowish color grading or it was the natural reflection of all that gold but it gave me headaches. I thought I was watching the movie on my Mac with night filter on. It may have been intentional but then there were some other choices made by the cinematographer that bugged me.
From the first scene, the DP tries to capture symmetric frames, maybe he was drunk and watched too much Wes Anderson or maybe he didn’t know what he was doing. It looks good if you are Wes Anderson, and know how to use it properly but not in this case. Then he took another approach to make everything look grand – Low Angle Shots. Almost every shot in this film is the low angle. The camera then slowly moves up. However, I am sure the DP did this on Bhansali’s instructions. It was excruciating to see the same shot again and again in each frame. Why can’t you film normally man? I am not here to experience a psychedelic trip.
During the night scenes, the stars are not visible even though it is the 14th century and there was no such thing as pollution at that time; unless of course there’s some guy cooking meth somewhere. How can someone miss such an important detail? Bhansali was so engrossed with the huge sets and jewelry that he forgot small things like these. Also, all the buildings in Chittoor are absolutely spotless. There is not even a single dent anywhere. They must have had those buildings cleaned up every minute or so. I respect your vision Mr. Bhansali but try to keep some things realistic every once in a while, for god’s sake. Never in my life have I seen a palace so neat and clean.
Only good visuals and huge sets don’t make a film. If they did, Avatar would have been the greatest film of all time and Valerian would not have bombed at Box Office. You must complement the visuals with a good screenplay, acting, cinematography, and dozens of other things. In short, one good thing does not make a good film. Anyone can make his films look visually stunning if he has the money to pay for the VFX. Anyway, I thought at least the war sequences would be good. But I was fooled, again.
We are shown tracking shots of Ranveer Singh entering the storm and Ranveer Singh coming out of the storm carrying a freaking head in his hand. I thought maybe the ending would have some great war sequences but nope. We have an army of thousands of people but just two of them fight because – BUDGET. I have never been fooled so many times by any film. I can hear Bhansali having a sarcastic laugh and screaming – “Ullu Banaya, Bada Maja Aaaya.”
Talking about acting, there is Ranveer Singh, who could have been the saving grace of the film. But he acts like a complete drunkard and over-the-top Khilji who gets high on the water. Half of the time he is trying to look into your soul. and another half of the time he is busy acting like a Clown whose pants are on fire. Did I mention two completely out of place dance sequences? I laughed so hard during those scenes that people started staring at me.
Deepika is always busy flaunting her Jewellery. Shahid is wearing the same serious expression throughout the film and screaming those irritating dialogues –
Chinta ko Talwar ki dhaar pe rakhe wo Rajput…I would add one more – Dimag ko side me rakh ke decision le wo Rajput. Without his dumb decisions, everyone would have been alive and they would have lived happily ever after. The movie would not have been made and we wouldn’t have had this much violence in the name of protests.
Padmaavat isn’t the film I was expecting to see. It is a huge disappointment that could have been much better. It is visually pleasing but if you ignore all the beautiful sets, there is nothing much to it.