One of the greatest tragedies in our Indian History is that women were forced at times and self-voluntarily at others committed the custom of Jauhar, that is, self-immolation. It is nothing but a romanticised version of Sati Sahagamanam. Well, keeping that small detail that will hurt today’s women empowerment activists aside, this movie is a glory of well-crafted visuals. We can see the painstaking effort that the team as put in to make it all look epic and a spectacle.

Plot : Raja Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapur) goes to the Simhala Kingdom, present-day Sri Lanka, for pearls to gift his Queen. There when he is on a hunting trip, he finds Padamavathi and follows her. Unknowingly, she shoots him with an arrow and then helps him recover from the wounds. On the day, he is about to leave, he asks her hand for marriage, she accepts and they get married in a grand fashion.

On the other hand, Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) becomes a huge part of Jalaluddin Khilji’s army and becomes the chief of Kara after marrying his daughter, Meherunissa (Aditi Rao Hydari). He kills Jalaluddin and takes over Delhi Sultanate and starts expanding it all over the sub-continent. As he is a big womanizer, when he gets to know that Rani Padmavathi is one of the divine beauties, immediately announces a seize of Chittorgarh fort of Mewar. Will he get his wish? What transpired between the King of Mewar and Alauddin Khilji? Why did Rani Padmavathi choose to perform Jauhar? Watch the movie for answers.

Performances : Ranveer Singh steals the show as Alauddin Khilji. He is one of the most charismatic performers on Indian Screen and he managed to deliver one of the most powerful performances once again. He is unpredictable and demonic in his behavior. He made sure that we all find his simple nuances as Khilji more interesting and breath-taking.

Shahid Kapur is a bit one-dimensional in comparison to Ranveer Singh here. He doesn’t really come across as well prepared as Ranveer but gives his best to the film. He really steals the show in the climax war scene and the actor lived up to the expectations in just that one scene. But in the rest of the movie, he seemed a bit confused at most of the times.

Deepika Padukone carries the movie with subtle elegance. She managed to deliver one of the power-packed restraint performances of her career. She used all that she is given to perform in this role and the climax scene where she had no lines to bank on and had to use just her eyes and expressions to convey the plight of a Queen, who is walking into the fire well, she did perform immaculately.

Rest of the cast is good in their roles but Aditi Rao scores in few scenes given to her. Jim Sarbh as the assistant of Alauddin delivers a good performance too.

Technicalities : Cinematography by Sudeep Chatterjee is grand and on an epic scale. While the visuals are great, the 3D conversion did not suite the depth that the director and the DOP are going for and hence, we feel it is not as good as it could have been in 2D. Maybe the late decision to convert hammered his work a bit but the grand eye of Sanjay Leela Bhansali is well matched by Sudeep.

Music by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is not that good as his music for Bajirao Mastani but Ghoomar is the song of the film and album. Back Ground score by Sanchit Balhara is very grand and in-sync with the mood of the film. In the last 15 minutes, he gives an emotional depth to the scenes and in a way, celebrates the sacrifice of the Rani-sa.

Editing by Jayanth Jadar, Akiv Ali and Sanjay Leela Bhansali is not up to the mark that we expect from the maker. It has many scenes that unnecessarily stay too long and also, the cut doesn’t really go in with the flow of the events. Especially in the first hour, we feel the film is overlong, while the second hour is more compact.

Screenplay and Direction by Sanjay Leela Bhansali can be viewed as a maker trying to tell his story more and more visually than with the help of dialogue. He narrates the story with more passion to create an art that he likes rather than giving it some emotional depth and character growth. He gives Alauddin Khilji’s side of the story a more effort than the original Rani Padmavarthi. In a way, he glorifies her sacrifice but we feel bad for the villain rather than feel accomplished and sad for our main lead, the Queen.

Still his penchant to craft a painting like frames and fill them with great and beauty cannot be discounted. He makes sure that each frame has some kind of beauty and also, tries to convey a point that beauty lies in the eyes of beholders. Even though women were not treated with much respect, he tries to add some heroic elements to the character of Rani Padmavathi in the times when even talking loud is treated as a crime. Had he given Rana Ratan and Padmavathi love story a little more spice and depth, the movie would have been even better.

Analysis : On Indian silver screen, classics like Mughal-E-Azam proved that you need to have a story and penchant to say it as visually as possible for the audience to undergo an experience that will last a lifetime. Sanjay Leela Bhansali tries hard to create such experience with his visual driven story-telling but doesn’t really care for his main protagonist character development as much as one aspires from him.

But he manages to make it all worth our time with the grand scale production and beautiful visuals. Also, Ranveer Singh delivers a performance that will be most memorable in the year to come. For the beauty and elegance of Deepika Padukone and unpredictable genius of Ranveer Singh, we can definitely watch the film once at least. Had Bhansali given more scope to Shahid Kapur and some more depth to his characters, the film could have been a classic. None-the-less, it deserves at least one time watch for this weekend at a theatre

Rating : 3/5