Nobody does grandeur quite like Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The man has a way with his sets that makes every frame appear like a painting. And his latest outing Padmaavat is no different. It is one of the grandest and most opulent period dramas Bollywood has ever seen.
While one can’t disagree that there are multiple issues that need to be addressed about the film, the kind of devotion that Bhansali has put into making every inch of the 164 minutes a flawless frame is unparalleled. From the opening sequence itself, every scene is a sight to behold. And it is not just about the perfectly coordinated colours that Bhansali is known for, it also has to do with the positioning of the characters and the cameras. All his shots speak elegance and every trinket lives up to the kind of splendor Bhansali is trying to portray with the film. Even the dialogues are poetic and momentous at the same time.
If we keep the film’s tedious narrative and misplaced glorification aside, a lot of Padmaavat’s scenes have been surprisingly well-directed. They capture all your senses with their sheer beauty. And thanks to the stellar set of actors starring in Padmaavat — the dialogues even carry a surprising amount of weight. But the one actor who especially stands out in Padmaavat is Ranveer Singh. He is that one element that ties the film together and his villainous act as Alauddin Khilji is the one that makes an impression in the minds of every viewer. Here’s looking at five of the best scenes in Padmaavat.
Malik Kafur’s love hymn for Alauddin Khilji
That Khilji and his slave Malik Kafur’s (Jim Sarbh) relationship had all kinds of homosexual overtones is not something Bhansali tried to hide from his viewers. In what can be called one of the best scenes of the film, Kafur is scrubbing Khilji’s feet in a hot bath, and suddenly his master’s head falls back, his chest heaves and his face wordlessly expresses ecstasy almost as if he is being pleasured. Of course, it lasts only for a moment, and Khilji is back with menace exuding from his kohl-rimmed eyes. But what follows is even more transcendent. Kafur stands up and starts crooning his love hymn to Khilji, “Binte Dil” while he rhythmically sways to its beats.
And there is something about Ranveer’s demeanour in this scene that presents Khilji’s narcissistic self like never before. We see him not just as the manipulative, demonic conqueror but as someone who can fall in love only with himself.
Malik Kafur’s entry scene
As has been said quite a few times, Kafur’s character accentuates Khilji’s machismo more than anybody can. And this is evident from the time Kafur enters the film. Even the first dialogue that Khilji and Kafur share reeks of the power dynamism they are going to share in the future.
It happens like this. Kafur is brought as a gift to Khilji in a white shroud, almost like a bride being presented to a king. Considering that it is Bollywood, we are expecting a woman. Khilji encircles Kafur like a hunter weighing up its prey. “What’s the name?” he almost demands. “Malik Kafur,” says Sarbh. “Not yours, the perfume you’re wearing,” says Khilji in a retort. And in that moment, we know how their relationship will shape out. The sexual connotations are just too heavy to ignore. And as the finishing touch, there is the infamous clap by Khilji, telling the audience how much he is enjoying his newly-acquired glory in front of the insecure Jalaluddin (Raza Murad).
Ratan Singh’s final words to Alauddin Khilji in Dilli
After a slightly comic moment when Ranveer expresses his disbelief on seeing Shahid instead of Deepika, he asks Shahid to kill him. And even at this point, while it appears like Ratan Singh is in command of the scene on the surface, it is actually Khilji. Because of the simple fact that he knows. He knows that this is Ratan’s only chance to kill him, because he knows all his commanders are busy reading Namaz, because he knows he is too hurt to fight back. And Ratan Singh’s fall lies in the fact that he is never able to use it to defeat Khilji. We see the power dynamics at play through the placement of Ranveer’s Khilji on a throne and Shahid standing before him like a subject.
Alauddin Khilji peeking out of his tent to see Padmavati
“Allah ki banai hur nayab cheez par kewal Alauddin ka haq hai,” claims Khilji in the beginning of Padmaavat. And till a long time, we feel that his quest to win Padmavati is an embodiment of just that. But there comes a point in the film, when Khilji has given the Rajputs an ultimatum and he is expecting Padmavati to walk out of Chittor fort soon. And almost as if driven with passion, Khilji runs to the opening of his tent to be the first man to lay his eyes on her. And even though his desires remain largely unfulfilled, Bhansali is able to make Ranveer’s character an incredibly nuanced one through this scene.
Rani Padmavati’s Ram reference
In another one of the deftly shot scenes, Deepika Padukone’s Rani Padmavati and Shahid Kapoor’s Ratan Singh are having lunch in the verandah of their majestic looking fort. And it is purely mesmerising, with the four pools and all. But what makes this scene stand out is the conversation between Deepika and Shahid. While expressing mistrust in Ratan’s belief that Khilji will never accept his demands to his self-invitation, Padmavati says, “Ram ko bhi kahan laga tha ki Raavan saadhu ke bhesh me aaega.” And right after, Sujan Singh announces that Khilji has accepted Ratan’s demands. We see how Padmavati could have had a much more important role to play than being an embodiment of their mutual adoration.