Padmaavat: A movie that could have well been named “Khilji”

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Puja Roy

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Ok, first things first!

Did Padmaavat disgrace Rajputs or belittle their valour? No. In fact, the movie overdid their valorization. Did the film show any dream sequence between Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji? 

No way, they do not have any scene together. Was the film worth all this hype and hoopla? Absolutely not.

The movie starts with a great deal of disclaimers, almost carefully putting across the fact that the film in no way wishes to go through any further hurdles, now that it has finally made its way to its audience. We are taken to 13th century Afghanistan where Jalaluddin khilji (Raza Murad), Alauddin Khilji’s uncle is the king who wishes to conquer the Delhi “Takqt” (throne). This sort of sets the tone as the audience now anticipates the entry of Alauddin Khilji who would attack and seize the ‘Takqt’ ultimately. 

Being a Sanjay Leela Bhansali epic drama, all the main characters in the film are given dramatic entries. We get to see the young Alauddin enter with a chained Ostrich to impress his uncle who had asked for a mere feather of the bird. These early idiosyncrasies develop the character in the film which goes on to thrive gradually over the span of the film and completely overshadow the two other leads – Deepika Padukone (Rani Padmini) and Shahid Kapoor (Raja Rawal Ratan Singh). 

Actors have played villains in the past, this isn’t the first time; however the ravenous appetite with which Ranveer Singh demonstrates Alauddin Khilji is totally unmatchable. Early in the film, Khilji declares “har nayab cheez par Allauddin ka haq hai.” His character thereafter draws from this very basic instinct of owning everything which is ‘nayab’ (exquisite) which eventually includes Rani Padmini also. Bhansali, as is expected of him, crafts each frame beautifully. Everything in the film barring few awkward computer graphics is ‘nayab’.

The rest of the story we all know. A distressed priest cum soothsayer from Chittor after being banished by Ratan Singh (at the behest of Rani Padmini) for his misconduct, comes to Khilji and tells him that he must possess Rani Padmavati as she is one of the most exquisite ‘thing’ to have and that his own fortunes will turn for the best once he acquires her. Khilji then starts his journey towards Chittor, wrongfully captures the king. This is followed by Rani Padmini bringing the king back with the aid of valiant Rajput warriors who enter the Delhi palace disguised as Padmini’s maids. 

Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat
Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat
Alauddin again wages war and wrongfully gets Ratan Singh killed. I don’t know how much has been deleted, reworked or over-improvised after the whole Karni Sena threats and other polarizations, but the film, on its own seems very drab. With no twists and turns (as we more or less know the story), it was the treatment that could have revived the rather known plot. And the treatment is very disappointing. The film talks too much about Rajput valour, ‘usool’, and their ‘aan baan shaan’. Dialogues like ‘even after being beheaded he who continues to fight is a Rajput’ mouthed by Ratan Singh reiterates the same thing again and again. Same for Deepika’s character, ‘Dar ka gehna Padmavati ne kabhi pehena hi nahi’ or ‘Rajputi kangan me utneehi shakti hai jitni ki Rajputi talwaar me” doesn’t create much effect. Added to this is the fact that other than the song “ghoomar” whose online release created quite a rage, all the others are totally forgettable. This is a total put off as usually a Bhansali film is also known for its music. 

Deepika is resplendent as the beautiful Padmavati and looks like a painting in every single frame. Shahid Kapoor plays his part well, with elan and composure, as is wont in a Rajput king. But beyond this there wasn’t much for these two characters to offer. The one who towers all along is Ranveer Singh. He seizes every scene with ghastly might and breathes life into Alauddin Khilji. Much like his character onscreen who wants to be to be mentioned prominently in history (in one scene Khilji is shown tearing away papers of written history where his name isn’t mentioned), Ranveer Singh too is the only actor who one shines through. Perhaps this is also a character that has multiple shades, Khilji is manipulative (he emotionally manipulates his army men when their morale hits a low due to a prolonged non- combative period), he is bisexual and has a loyal partner in his slave Malik kafur (Gora singh, the Senapati of Ratan singh while introducing Kafur says, ‘unki biwi hi samjhiye’); he is definitely eccentric in multiple ways, he is wild, fearless but also careful when needed (exchanges plates with the Raja when offered food, in the fear that his plate might have poison in it).

Shahid Kapoor as Rawal Ratan Singh in Padmaavat
Shahid Kapoor as Rawal Ratan Singh in Padmaavat
Aditi Rao Hydari as Khilji’s wife Mehrunnisa plays her part well, so does Raza Murad as his uncle. Also the act of Jauhar in the end is shot really well and does create some emotional appeal after a long drab film. One gets to see the whole trajectory of Padmavati from being a Singhal princess to becoming a godlike figure for her ultimate sacrifice. However, with Khilji being the best written character, others had little charm. 

For me, this was an out-an-out Ranveer Singh game and full marks to him for saving the film from being a very boring one. This film might have well been named ‘Khilji’. 

About Author - 

Puja has a great appetite for movies of all kinds ranging from regional, Bollywood to World Cinema. An avid reader herself, she also blogs at

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