I have refrained from talking about the Padmavat-Karni Sena issue because it is embarrassing to think of.
That a fictional character would be exalted to the status of a goddess, misplaced pride would lead to death threats being issued in the open.
I find the issue of pride laughable. How can you be proud of being a Rajput?
‘Pride’ is to be felt when you belong to a world champion sporting side, or if you discover a new metal, invent a new technology – that is pride. What the fuck is Rajput pride?
How can you feel ‘pride’ about being born in a particular clan, when you have no choice in the matter? You did no work to be born in a particular clan. Your parents had sex, and sperms were transferred from the male organ to the female organ.
At that time, there was no viva voce conducted – Hello, Mr. Proud Sperm, which clan would you want to be born in? Aryan? Dravidian? IITian?? Nothing of that sort happened. So what the fuck is this pride that people keep harping about?
I have seen educated urban friends of mine put up statuses expressing pride in their clan, caste, religion, creed and blood group. I do not know what to make of it. After entering my 30s, I have reconciled to the fact that some things in life are twisted, and there’s nothing one can do about it.
But I digress.
This is about Padmavat, the movie.
Even though I have been panning Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s films for ten years now, I have a secret admiration for the guy. He has a vision of his own (even if they are hallucinogenic visions) and he goes ahead and executes his projects.
In spite of all his awards and recognition, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s greatest achievement in cinema has been to get Salman Khan to emote, a task that amounts to getting a rabbit to attend a 21 day workshop on Hatha Yoga. But Bhansali’s films suffer from a key problem.
You always know the ending of a Bhansali film. Whether it is Rasleela, Devdas, Guzaarish, Bajirao Mastani. It is the same with this film too – you know exactly how the film will end. Especially since the director has clarified to Karni Sena morons that there is no dialogue between the two stars, that they do not share even a single scene, and there’s absolutely no interaction between them.
In fact, you get a sense of this when the many disclaimers come on, before the movie begins.
This is based on a poem from the 16th century poem – Padmavat. There is no intent to harm anybody’s feelings.
So you know there’s going to be masturbatory dialogues to glorify Rajputs.
The film does not intend to glorify Sati
So you know there’s going to be a ten minute, slow-mo, climactic shot of Sati, a money-shot involving yellow, gold and red – Bhansali’s own RGY colour format.
No animals were harmed in the making of this film.
So you know that all the animals shown will be whipped up by underpaid Indian animation artists. Which is why when Alauddin Khilji turns up with an exotic ostrich, it resembles a bird from Chhota Bheem.
After eight movies, the Indian viewer has gotten used to the opulence and grandeur. The viewer is looking for nuance and story, and Bhansali offers none of that. The film begin with Deepika Padukone, who is introduced as the warrior princess who lives in the kingdom of Bahubali Sets. She’s fierce and strong and independent and all that, but you know she’s going to end up as the second wife of the king, the noble Raja Moron Singh.
On the other side, there is Alauddin Khilji, essayed by an earnest performance by Ranveer Singh. A role so earnest that he does everything the director asks him to do. If this was a Muslim majority state, Bhansali would have been stoned to death for depicting Muslims in bad light. To uphold the fragile prestige of one group, Bhansali demonises the other.
His Alauddin Khilji does everything one can to appear evil.
Quite naturally, he hears of Padmavati, and decides to attack Chittor.
Which then brings us to the other king in the story:
Raja Ratan Sen.
King of Chittor,
Works at Pouter @Pouting.
Owner of weird nipples.
Shahid Kapoor’s interpretation of an upright king is to play him stiff and uptight. Not only does Raja Dishaheen Singh look like Padmavati’s younger brother, their love scenes look like a kinky Rakshabandhan fetish video.
This is where Bhansali slips. To massage the fragile ego of Karni Sena, he makes Shahid’s character mouth absurd Rajput-praising lines every few minutes.
While wearing his clothes: Jo samundar paar karey, woh Rajput.
While eating food: Rajput ghee lagaake khate hain, Dalda nahi.
While bathing: Raput Nivia Mens Body Wash use karte hain, Lifebuoy nahi.
On and on and on, till you actually wish for Khilji to attack and fucking kill the guy. Drive a sword right through him and then get him trampled by elephants.
Ironically, after mouthing all the bravado, Raja Pout Singh goes on to commit the most moronic mistakes a 13th century ruler could.
He invites an oppressor who openly threatened to take his wife away (Khilji was a one man Karni Sena), and then has lunch and plays chess with him. As Khilji camps outside his fort and supplies have been cut off, he hides the fact from his people, instead choosing to celebrate a grand Diwali and Holi.
He goes to Khilji’s camp all alone, without a weapon. What were you thinking? That is Alauddin Khilji, not Raju the Postman. If there were memes in the 13th century India, Raja Bawaal Singh would be one.
There are so many Rajput-appeasing dialogues in the movie, that you begin to laugh at the irony when Shahid Kapoor jumps from one faux pas to another. If anything, Karni Sena should be offended by how stupid Raja Wierd Nipple Singh is shown.
He escapes from Khilji’s captivity, only to walk up to him and mouth some garbage dialogues; resulting in the death of 800 soldiers, including the Chief Commander, who loses his head because his king never chose to use his own.
In analysing the movie, I may have inadvertently found the solution to the Karni Sena backlash. Bhansali needs to employ those jobless Karni Sena activists as interns in his Editing Department. He badly needs an editor of his movies – Padmavat lags and jags and drags and sags.
By the end, you want Khilji to get it done with, and Rani Padmavati to jump into the fire. You don’t even get that, because there’s a slow-mo, jerk-off Johar scene. For some reason, you are treated to a shot of women of all ages and sections of the society jump into a large flame. That this is a source of any pride is honestly revolting!
Decades later, Padmavat will feature in a Bhansali Kalaeidoscope in film festivals around the world. While introducing the movie, it will be remembered as the film that raked up a storm because a bunch of morons decided to milk it for political mileage.
It will be remembered as the film for which he got death threats, a film that whipped up a frenzy in a nation already crippled with a number of other problems.
But as I walked out of the movie, stuffed with soft drinks and popcorn, and stepped out of the mall on to the cold, winter night, I was looking for bonfires to jump into, and end my life.