Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmaavat”, inspired by the poem “Padmavat” by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, attempts to unravel the various shades of human emotions amid the rage of abduction, war and destruction. A journey of utter awe and astonishment is palpable upon witnessing a glimpse of a long-standing heritage. However, it is also important to bear in mind that aside from all the gallantry, flamboyance and rituals, lies a latent wave of emotions that runs dramatically through every vein, though is expressed or seen in flashes.
The tears in the eyes of Mehrunisa while imagining her wedlock with Alauddin Khilji and later, on realising his promiscuous demeanour hold intense passion, but emerge from two totally different domains of human consciousness. On the other hand, Padmavati is startled with physical affection while an injured king – Ratan Singh, lies dizzy on her shoulders. As time goes on, Ratan Singh too starts sharing the mutual feelings of attraction. This is one of the few instances that portrays undisguised love in the film before a marital union takes place and Padmavati becomes the queen of Chittor.
It perhaps is a product of self-appraisal and pandering to one’s desires that can have both positive and negative repercussions. The film projects Alauddin’s sole dream to usurp his uncle’s throne in the light of greed and lust for control. However, there is no evidence as to why he is shown to have those Machiavellian tendencies.
In the Chittor palace, the women are equally anxious as the army men head out to safeguard the dynasty. Padmavati cannot vent her fear of losing Ratan Singh to Alauddin or Nagmati. They manage to keep up with the values and pride of their clan to think and be as a collective unit. In the same frame, rests the loyalty of the soldiers, who suppress their longing for freedom to protect the kingdom’s sanctity and hence, acquire martyrdom. According to them, martyrs become prominent figures in the pages of history, but for a smiling mother, they turn into an incessant wait. Padmaavat beautifully caricatures the ‘chivalrous’ woman in this aspect.
As an extension to the same idea, Padmavati supports her husband’s ventures, despite being aware of a possible foreboding. Both her and Ratan Singh, endure immensely hard separations while maintaining their self-esteem. When Padmavati and the women of Chittor anticipate abduction as the fall of kingdom approaches closer, they strengthen their will to offer themselves to a pyre with tears of ‘liberation’ rolling down their cheeks. This holds an epiphany in the eyes of Alauddin as his avarice diminishes with a sense of immortal defeat, even though he seems to conquer the rocky castle.
Therefore, even as it is true that the film follows the fictional story of a poem, the very representation of a society that lays much more emphasis on its character than the luxurious show, evokes admiration. The same is buttressed by a tactful selection of props such as the attire of Ratan Singh, Padmavati and the rest of the cast.
Moreover, a determined background score with an exquisite string of music and their strategic help create a massive impact. This is where the past directorial works of Bhansali such as “Bajirao Mastani” (2015) and “Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ramleela” (2013) observe a confluence. However, “Padmaavat” stands taller in regards to engaging more with one’s self as this phenomenon treads beyond the range of just the protagonists and posits basic human display of a populace silent under the notion of repute.