Padmaavat (2018)

Padmaavat (2018)

Matt Wyatt
Fledgling Mobian
Matt Wyatt
Fledgling Mobian
Joined: Jan 5 2005, 04:47 PM

Jan 27 2018, 08:50 AM #1

The story of how the grand Bollywood epic Padmaavat finally reached theaters after an extended delay and a slight name change (from Padmavati) following numerous death threats against its director and female star (including a million dollar plus bounty offered for her beheading) may forever overshadow the actual film itself, but if you're a fan of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, you won't be disappointed. Myself...I loved it.

But first, a couple of comments about two of the trailers that played before the main feature. One was for an oddball looking comedy called Pad Man, which is described as being about "the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a Tamil Nadu-based social activist who revolutionized the concept of menstrual hygiene in rural India by creating a low-cost sanitary napkins machine." No joke. It stars Akshay Kumar, who has toplined a number of crazy action films. The bonkers theme song makes me want to see this. Then there was the trailer for Hichki, which looks like an inspirational drama starring the always ravishing Rani Mukherji as a teacher with what must be the cutest form of Tourette syndrome that I've ever seen. They had me at Rani. A definite must see.

Back to the main feature. The massive controversy surrounding Padmaavat is something that you can google, so I won't waste space here going into detail, except to say that it was much ado about nothing. Based on a famous epic poem about characters who may or may not have actually existed, Bhansali's film plays out like a sort-of feminist Bollywood Masada and, weirdly enough, it may even be the ultimate movie for the current #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The brutish lead villain, who surprisingly gets most of the film's screentime, is rather like a historical forerunner to Harvey Weinstein, using all of his immense power and resources to try and possess the heavenly queen of another kingdom.

Or, perhaps the movie is just Bhansali's cinematic love letter to actress Deepika Padukone, the stunning actress who starred in Bhansali's previous two films, Bajirao Mastani and Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, and stars here as "Padmavati," the ethereal beauty who becomes the major chess piece in a standoff between two kingdoms. When we first see her, Padmavati is gracefully romping through the forest hunting a deer when she accidentally fires an arrow into the chest of the visiting Rajput king from Mewar, Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor). After she nurses him back to health, the smitten king asks her to become his queen and she agrees, traveling with him back to Mewar. After they discover Singh's royal priest peeping on them during a personal moment, he is banished from the kingdom on the advice of Padmavati. But, before leaving, the priest vows to return one day and destroy Mewar.

He gets his chance when he falls in with Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh), the immoral ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. The priest manages to convince Alauddin that he can foresee the future and tells him that by capturing Padmavati and having her by his side, Alauddin will be able to fulfill his destiny of conquering the world. Alauddin thus rallies his considerable forces in an attempt to launch an all-out assault on Mewar, but finds that their fortress is almost impenetrable, leading him to devise other sinister schemes to obtain Padmavati, who has now become his obsession.

This is not a subtle movie. Characters are painted in very broad strokes. The Rajputs are virtually all exceptionally noble (ironic, considering that the Hindus were the most aggressive protestors of the movie) while Alauddin is a relentlessly sinister, one-dimensional villain. He is played in gloriously over-the-top fashion by Singh and his maniacal behavior at times veers into cartoonish territory. But then again, subtlety is not exactly Bhansali's aim here. The movie is an epic fairytale of sorts with a bitter edge to it. And, as with his previous works, this is a deeply romantic and ridiculously opulent production with a virtuoso mix of music and imagery that will be intoxicating to those willing to surrender to it, but likely toxic to hardened cynics.

What keeps the movie from being a just an epic romance/war movie with eyepopping visuals is the underlying despair that Bhansali effectively uses as a counterpoint to the sumptuous backdrops. In Devdas, the lead character is surrounded by exceptional wealth, but finds himself trapped by the stifling class divisions and traditions of Indian society and the only way to escape is by drinking himself to death. In Bajirao Mastani, religious and familial conflicts lead to the doom of the heroic central couple. Padmavati ends with an act of mass self immolation that some may find excessive and presented in an overly triumphant fashion. It's clear, though, that Bhansali's heart is in the right place. In order for good to defeat evil, self sacrifice is often a necessary ingredient.
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Joined: Oct 24 2004, 05:57 PM

Jan 28 2018, 12:14 AM #2

Funny that you just posted this. I plan to see the film Tuesday and had headed to Tapatalk to do a post mentioning that. I'm glad you went into such detail. I know the film has been extremely controversial in India, but none of the reviews posted so far on Fandango - not that I expect much from them - say anything more critical than "the screenplay is too slow." It would be great if my MoviePass arrives by Tuesday and the AMC Empire 25 makes up its mind about whether they accept it, but I don't expect it, since I just applied for it 6 days ago. I'm willing to pay to see it. 

I actually got a press release for PAD MAN. I'm not sure when it's being released in America, but its distributor has handled the same company that did PR in New York for THE POST & ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD!

Inspirational dramas make me twitch, although a friend who lives in a different city and whom I rarely see in person has Tourette's syndrome. 
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Yi Lee
Mobian
Yi Lee
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Joined: Oct 19 2004, 08:15 AM

Jan 28 2018, 10:34 PM #3

Hiya everyone

 Two quick comments in passing.

 [To Steve]: First, have you seen this? I don't think MoviePass is going to work at the AMC Empire 25 anymore (according to these sources)...

https://www.avclub.com/moviepass-says-i ... 1822465388
[h/t The AV Club]: https://www.cnet.com/news/moviepass-dro ... l-want-it/

 [To Matt]: You're probably aware of this but this is the third time filmmaker Sanjay Bhansali has paired Deepika Padukone alongside Ranveer Singh. The first, as you've mentioned in your initial review, was in "Goliyon Ki Rasleela: Ram-Leela"--another picture featuring title change drama because of offending religious sensibilities on the subcontinent--and then again in "Bajirao Mastani," which was not without its own controversies owing to the tale's religious background (see below). "Ram-Leela" featured Singh as a Hindu Romeo becoming smitten with Padukone's Muslim Juliet (the movie is an explicit re-imagining of Shakespeare's play but perhaps is more indebted to Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" than to the Bard) whilst in "Bajirao[-]Mastani," Singh plays Baji Rao I, an eighteenth century Hindu statesman who conquers for his emperor and becomes smitten (again) with Padukone's Mastani, a Muslim princess who attempts to assassinate him in order to protect her parents' kingdom from invasion. The two movies work despite their respective flaws because of the scintillating on-screen chemistry between Ranveer and Deepika, not unlike the lightning in a bottle Bhansali captured with Shah Rukh Kan (then just Shahrukh Khan) and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (then just Aishwarya Rai) in "Devdas." Anyway, I haven't seen the picture yet but I think a broad brush is perfectly acceptable since we've already had two prior Bhansali pairings wherein Padukone serves as the focus of Singh's affections/obsessions (and the two are rumored to be a real life item since meeting on the set of "Ram-Leela")...

 What I find intriguing is introducing Shahid Kapoor as the third leg to the triangle considering how in his commercial work he's often paired with either Priyanka Chopra or Kareena Kapoor Khan. In "Ram-Leela" the couple aren't able to defy convention (or several centuries worth of internecine war between their competing families) while in "Bajirao Mastani," Singh does manage to take Padukone as a second spouse (the first being assayed by Priyanka Chopra) but not without coming to a bad end because of clan/court intrigues and running afoul of the religious authorities of medieval India. In this picture Singh is the Muslim Other who, because he's not Hindu, doesn't have to worry about Hindu strictures and freely pursues the object of his desire (though she, of course, is now bound by that selfsame tradition and the practice of sati). I guess what I'm trying to say is I'd be interested in seeing you opine on the couple's evolving on-screen dynamic since it is gradually becoming one of the industry's most iconic couplings not unlike that of Bogart & Bacall or Tracy & Hepburn back in the day.
Last edited by Yi Lee on Jan 29 2018, 03:20 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: Oct 24 2004, 05:57 PM

Jan 28 2018, 11:17 PM #4

There have been several back-and-forths between AMC and MoviePass re:what theaters accept the pass. They sent out a list showing what theaters currently do *not* accept it. The Empire 25 wasn't on the list. 

In this film's opening weekend, it outgrossed all but 2 foreign-language films released in the U.S. in 2017 and got to #10 on the U.S. box office chart despite playing on only about 350 screens in North America. I wish that meant that Indian cinema is reaching an audience beyond the South Asian diaspora but it probably just means that audience is very loyal and this film's buzz has reached out internationally. 
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Jan 31 2018, 03:57 PM #5

I saw DEVDAS at a free screening put on by an Indian college student group years ago when it came out (it was so new, the Indian store I rented B-wood flicks from didn't even have a bootleg VHS copy of it yet,lol) and despite the fact that it didn't have subs, it was still an entertaining, lushly and lavishly produced flick (with a devastating ending for a romance,though.) But, yeah, PADMAAVAT was apparently so controversial, it just got banned in Malaysia so far. If a film gets banned anywhere in the world, it must have got something going for it, regardless of whomever it's currently pissing off,lol. Practically anything I've read about the film is about folks damn near rioting over it,and all. I honestly can't see what the big deal is, since all the controversy seems to be merely over the interpretation of the myth the film is based on. Here's a trailer without subs for it:

Trailer for PADMAAVAT (without subs,darn it)

There's even a little youtube video titled "35 Mistakes in Padmaavat", which is the first one of its type I've ever noticed for a Bollywood film,lol. I haven't watched it yet,though.
Last edited by Kim Greene on Feb 2 2018, 10:41 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: Oct 24 2004, 05:57 PM

Jan 31 2018, 04:29 PM #6

Here's Simon Abrams' ambivalent but basically positive review for RogerEbert.com: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/padmaavat-2018
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Mar 9 2018, 12:06 PM #7

Here's some new Bollywood releases not playing near me I just found out about:

YE MANTRAM VESAVE (2018)-----This Telugu release, which is going to open this weekend, I think may be a rom-com about a gaming addict, or something like that--I say that because I can't find a single word about the full plot anywhere so far, other than a press interview about it by the director on youtube.

AWE---A multi-story Telugu drama about a whole bunch of main characters and how their lives gradually intersect.

THOLI PREMA----Another Telugu drama about two people who keep running into each other time after time and how their relationship grows and weathers the storm over a 7-year period. There was also a 1998 film also called THOLI PREMA, but I can't tell whether it's a remake or not,even though both films deal with growing relationships between a couple.

SONU KE TITU KE SWEETY----A new Hindi comedy-bromance about one of two longtime male friends---one is getting married, the other feels that the bride is too perfect, and tries to bust up the upcoming nuptials.

Sonu Ke Titu Ke Sweety at IMDB,with trailer

Also, PADMAAVAT's still playing,too.
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Mar 18 2018, 05:06 PM #8

Never though I'd hear about a sci-fi action flick featuring both Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian of THE RAID movies fame, and Frank Grillo of THE PURGE films fame in the same flick all kicking alien a** together, but here it is in the upcoming film BEYOND SKYLINE:

City On Fire----Beyond Skyline---sci-fi w/martial arts action
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Mar 25 2018, 08:40 AM #9

Here's an interesting article about the Bollywood film PAD MAN, and why a social worker in India claims that the film is a bunch of BS, as well as lacking in real facts :

The real issues surrounding PAD MAN concerning women's menstrual health
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