Movie Review: Padmaavat

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Movie & Music Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Producers: Sanjay Leela Bhansali & Ajit Andhare

Note: there are no spoilers in this review.  

Padmaavat is a period drama based on an epic poem written in 1540 by the Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi. This is a fictional story about the Delhi Sultante Alauddin Khalji’s (Ranveer Singh) desire for the most beautiful woman, the precious Queen of Chittor Rani Padmavati (Deepika Padukone). Padmavati and her husband, the Rajput ruler Rawal Ratan Sen (Shahid Kapoor), fight to protect the Rajput honor from Alauddin’s merciless rage.

The positives:

  1. Song and dance: From the beginning credits, to Shreya Ghosal’s “Ghoomar” dance and Ganesh Acharya’s choreography for Ranvir’s “Khalibali” – it all lives up to the legendary Bhansali expectations.
  2. The grandeur of the sets were nothing less than jaw-dropping. The movie takes place at the beautiful Chittor fort in Rajasthan, one of the largest forts in India and a world heritage UNESCO site today. Unfortunately, members of the Karni Sena group vandalized sets at Jaigargh Fort where the Padmaavat sets were originally located and thus Bhansali recreated parts of the Chittor Fort in Mumbai.
  3. Ranveer Singh was FAN-TASTIC. He fully absorbed Alauddin into his soul (for better or for worse!) and I am convinced there was nobody better suited for the role. Although Deepika did very well as Queen Padmavati and looked gorgeous as ever, Ranvir stole the show. I think Mr. Singh is on track to win best actor.
  4. Costume design was just impeccable for each character: authentic, organic, luxurious handwork that truly depicted the 13th century royalty. Watch the behind the scenes of costume design by Rimple & Harpreet Narula here.
  5. This movie will change Aditi Rao Hydari’s career. As she was not featured in any of the trailers, Aditi was a very pleasant surprise as supporting actress, playing Alauddin’s naive begum, Mehrunissa.

The negatives:

  1. The storyline was weak and executed poorly. This was by far Padmaavat’s biggest flaw. The only reason it stayed afloat is because of the Bhansali larger-than-life experience (oh, and Ranvir too).
  2. Shahid Kapoor’s acting was underwhelming. He was most certainly overshadowed by Ranveer as there was an unbalanced character build – not really an issue though if you’re a Ranveer fan (*wink wink*). I do have to say that Deepika and Shahid had pretty good chemistry on screen.
  3. Padmaavat is the first Indian move to come out in IMAX 3D. Unfortunately, there were barely any “3D” effects like flying swords and severed heads in your face, something you would expect in any 3D war film.
  4. As usual, this was one of those lengthy Indian movies where you feel like the intermission could’ve been the ending. That said, the plot moved quickly and you had very little chance to fall asleep.
  5. Anupriya Goenka’s role as Rawal Ratan Sen’s first wife, Nagmati, was quite forgettable. She was the most unconvincing character and certainly a poor choice on actor selection for this character.

Fun facts – did you know?

  • Ranveer sought help from a psychiatrist after filming this movie to overcome the Khilji-ness that took over his behavior and mental health.
  • Deepika Padukone is one of the highest paid Bollywood actresses. She charged 12 crores for this movie and generally makes 10-12 crores per film. She is a SLB favorite!

On the whole, Padmaavat is a film that you should see once. If you’re a Deepika or Ranveer fan – this is a must-see, but go with low expectations and just enjoy the Bhansali experience.

Rating:

Acting: 4/5

Story: 1/5

Costumes: 5/5

Sets/Filming Location: 5/5

Songs: 3/5

Choreography: 3/5

Eye Candy: 4/5

Length of Movie: 2/5

Overall: ***1/2, 6.5/10

Key:

* = flop, don’t even bother

** = time pass, you’ll live if you don’t see it

*** = worth a watch

**** = A hit, see it in the theater!

***** = Bollywood Blockbuster

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Movie Review: Dangal

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Director: Nitesh Tiwari

Music: Pritam Chakraborty

Production: Aamir Khan Productions, Walt Disney Pictures, UTV Motion Pictures

Starring: Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra

Release Date: December 21, 2016

Genre: Sports Drama

Bollywood cinema in the year 2016 ends with the much-awaited release, Dangal, starring the one and only, Aamir Khan, and impressive debutants Fatima Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra. Dangal (translation: “wrestling arena,”) is a biographical sports drama based on the female Indian wrestler, Geeta Phogat and her sister Babita Kumari. Geeta Phogat is known as India’s first female wrestler to win (gold medal!) at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Dangal tells the story of how Geeta’s father and former wrestler, Mahavir Singh Phogat (played by Aamir Khan), struggles to coach his daughters to achieve this noble victory in a society where women are not recognized in the “man’s sport” of wrestling. How do the girls achieve this feat? Can they make their father’s dream come true? Check out Dangal to find out!

Fun Fact: Dangal has already hit the 300-crore club in just 13 days since its release, surpassing Sultan and PK.

The positives:

  1. Dangal is based on a true story. No worries about wasting your time on a cheesy masala flick. Best part is, you’ll learn a thing or two about mud and mat wrestling.
  2. Aamir Khan’s performance was impeccable – what else would you expect from this legendary Bollywood hero? He accepts his age and plays the roles that suit him, rather than pretending like he’s still a 25-year-old bachelor like some other Bollywood actors we know…
  3. The songs and music – great work by Pritam. My favorite is the title track, which will easily get stuck in your head. The songs don’t distract you from the movie itself and are more just background soundtrack. Another catchy song is the playful track “Haanikarak Bapu.”
  4. Dangal is NOT the same storyline as Salman Khan’s wrestling movie, Sultan, released July 2016. Both have their charms; Dangal is based on a true story while Sultan is a fictional love story with more traditional Bollywood masala and comedy. 

 The negatives:

  1. Okay, I lied. Not everything in Dangal is based on truth. After you’ve seen the movie, check out this link to read about the few scenes that deviated from the real story.
  2. “Fat to Fit.” If you haven’t seen this video on how Aamir Khan gained and then lost 55 lb for this movie, you’re in for a shock. Sure it’s incredible how he was able to transform his body so drastically, but why would they only show off his “FIT” phase in the movie for a mere 30 second flashback?? aamir-fat-to-fit_759
  3. The length of the movie – much of the first half was slow and dragged on a bit. Although you are captivated for most of the time, there are moments where you wish you could just grab a remote and press fast forward.
  4. The overall message: Dangal is not just a film about girl power. I was surprised how the focus of the plot felt more about Mr. Phogat’s desire to accomplish his dreams through his children, about the relationship between father and daughter, and the fight to achieve something for yourself rather than for someone else.

In summary, Dangal is a must-see Bollywood film that you don’t want to miss. Perfect for a family outing including parents, kids and senior citizens. Whether you’re an Aamir fan, a sports fan, or a daughter, father, or sister, this one’s for you!

Acting: 5/5
Story: 4/5
Costumes: 3.5/5
Sets/Filming Location: 4/5
Songs: 3.5/5
Eye Candy: 3.5/5
Length of Movie: 2/5
Overall: **** 7.5/10

Key:
* = flop, don’t even bother
** = time pass, you’ll live if you don’t see it
*** = worth a watch
**** = A hit, see it in the theater!
***** = Bollywood Blockbuster