The compelling story of Rani Padmavati, a character that had always been inspirational to me, being told by a director that to my mind takes the movie experience to a new dimension – was more than enough to have me super eager to see the film. Ever since the first trailer of this film (at the time it was differently named), it has been a long wait, and finally over the weekend – with all the security in the world – I got my chance!
Enough has been said about the performances of the leads. Whether I agree with them or not, I chose to step aside from commenting on them, for I am no authority on acting or performances. Just like the average viewer, I am not sure I know how to dissect the nuances of a movie to give a detailed account of what aspects of the movie super superseded the other. For me it’s simple, a film either works or not!
Having said that, I feel compelled to mention, that the depiction of three characters were profoundly rousing to my mind – Badal, his mother and a particular aged woman of the Rajputi harem. The latter two had significantly minimalistic roles, but the amount they were able to deliver in those few moments was enough to create an intense churning right in the center of your chest! What was truly different about this film for me, was, for once it was not SLB’s larger than life depiction that was consuming me or sucking me in, it was the sheer power of the story he was telling!
There were aspects of Padmavati’s character that one always wondered about – for instance, what it must have felt like to have an entire kingdom fight and lay their lives – quite literally – for your honour! And to me, the transition of Padmavati’s character from one that was apprehensive of putting so many lives at risk – to one that gave a full-throated call to the entire might of the Rajputi Harem to walk into, what can safely be assumed as, the largest pyre known to mankind – was an extremely convincing one! A whole bunch (a massive one in fact) of things in the film did not work for me at all, but quite honestly the last 30 minutes of the film leave you feeling something that is hard to put into words!
What times they lived in and what ethics they upheld! What mothers they were that bore such sons, and what women they were that their men happily died protecting! Call them stubborn or bull-headed – but they were principled almost to a fault! Perhaps when you lead a life like that, you justifiably develop a sense of self that is beyond what we, living in the modern age of absolutely-no-consistent-principles, can imagine! To stare defeat in the face and yet put up the strongest fight you can, to know the end is near and yet live the moment as if it were for a brighter tomorrow, to have the opportunity of ending all your troubles and stepping back only because it would be unfair to catch your opponent on the wrong foot – they are ideas most people don’t even fathom in the 21st century let along strive to live them!
The story churned hate in you for the aggressor and a massive sense of protectiveness towards the oppressed. You knew from before you walked into the theatre exactly what was going to happen and yet, a tiny part of you wanted it to be different!
To sum it up, the movie left me with the thought: victory does not always adorn the face you imagine. And hence, one should pick their battles carefully. Pick one only when you are sure, that if it goes down to the wire – and it will, you have the gumption to then do what it takes! For one wins only those battles that are fought with fearlessness and dignity alike!
SLB’s “Padmaavat” is a celebration of life and death both! It is an ode to an Indian woman’s sense of self and it is a call out to every human to say – that each one of us have a bit of Padmavati in us, each of us have a bit of Khilji too. The one we let rule our minds and actions is what decides our fate.