Jan 242018

NJ: When I read the press invite for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’, the first thought that came to my mind was “Hey there Karni Sena”. Being martyred for a story would be the high point of my career. 

SH: Being an Anglo-Indian, I didn’t quite follow the issue through 2017. But, I decided to tag along for the press release anyway. I wanted to know what all the hype was about. More importantly, I wanted to know if it was warranted…

NJ: Waiting at the theatre, with police personnel in uniform and many more in plain clothes, there was a forbidden thrill in the air. Our internal politics are so messed up, watching a movie can feel like an act of rebellion. Thank you religious fanatics, for the masala popcorn.

SH: Personally, the masala gave me piles. I went in for the movie not knowing what these fanatics had a problem with. When it finished, I kind of understood their plight. I’m not condoning how they reacted, but I get why they were so angry. I mean, we grew up being taught that Sati was bad. 

NJ: Tum angrez abhi bhi sati ke peeche pade ho. It wasn’t about Sati, it was about the dream sequence. Ab tumhe doguna lagaan dena padega. 

SH: Oh shit! Really? They didn’t care about their dying rani, they were more offended by Khilji’s wet dreams? I mean, Alauddin Khilji could have dreamt about anything in the world. He probably dreamt of Padmavati on more than one occasion, and to have a problem with Bhansali trying to depict it in a movie, is irrational.

'Padmaavat' Review: Khilji Se Darr Nahi Lagta Saab, Karni Sena Se Lagta Hai© Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

NJ: Oh the dream sequence yes, I’m sure he never dreamt of Padmavati ever, even though he waged a war for her, got his dear soldiers killed and sweated the Rajasthan summer out, he never dreamt of her. Every time he closed his eyes and thought of her, Shahid’s big angry forehead vein would make a guest appearance.

NJ: Was there a dream sequence between Khilji and Padmavati? Of course not, Jim (third wheel) Sarbh would have none of it. But if you are a seasoned Bollywood buff, you can see the gaping holes that are most probably the result of multiple cuts the film had to suffer.

SH: If only we could get our hands on a version where the only cut was Malik Kafur’s manhood. 

*NJ will vouch for me for not being a homophobe. Please don’t riot, Kafur ke descendents. Oh wait, there aren’t any.*

'Padmaavat' Review: Khilji Se Darr Nahi Lagta Saab, Karni Sena Se Lagta Hai© Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

SH: As far as acting in Indian cinema is concerned, Ranveer Singh should just be handed every single award there is. No, I am not saying he is the Heath Ledger of India, but he’s the closest thing we have. He was into Khilji like his life depended on it. (NJ: Hope you aren’t talking about Sarbh!)

NJ: When Khilji looks at you with his hardened eyes mad with desire and violence, you can sense the pure savagery that drove the Rajput women to commit ‘jauhar’. For all his accurate portrayal, you hate Alauddin Khilji and want him dead. That’s when you know Ranveer has nailed the role. No wonder he needed psychiatric help to come out of the character’s skin.

SH: Deepika’s fear as she was stepping into the fire looked so real. It was hard to believe she could portray such emotion when the CGI fire was so pathetic. Then again, I’m guessing that fear was so real since there were so many people who wanted her dead. Every shoot of Deepika’s probably started off with a crew member reading out the death threats she received. That’s dedication on a whole new level.

'Padmaavat' Review: Khilji Se Darr Nahi Lagta Saab, Karni Sena Se Lagta Hai© Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

NJ: Khilji se darr nahi lagta saab, Karni Sena se lagta hai. 

SH: Are you saying they won?

NJ: Of course…

KS: “Jhuka Bhansali, Jeeta Rajput!”

NJ: One thing that deserves a special mention, and probably an award, is the kickass CGI on Deepika’s midriff. I did not blink once during the entire ‘Ghoomar’ song. I mean, looking for a computer generated wardrobe malfunction is tough.

SH: Never have I seen some 300 odd people staring at a woman’s belly so attentively. Even if Bhansali himself was dancing in the background, Karni Sena wouldn’t have noticed. 

'Padmaavat' Review: Khilji Se Darr Nahi Lagta Saab, Karni Sena Se Lagta Hai© Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

NJ: If there’s one thing I could have changed about the film (if I had enough political clout), it would be Malik Kafur’s unrequited love for Khilji. They could have given him a dream sequence at least. The Khiljis wouldn’t have minded, I think.  

SH: Yeah, one steamy dream sequence would do. Deepika nahi toh Sarbh hi sahi. Don’t worry Jim, I’d be doing the same thing if I was onscreen with a topless Ranveer.

NJ: Maybe the Rajputs should have written an epic of their own. After all, history is just institutionalised fiction, like Khilji shows us when he burns the documents that don’t bear his name. History is history and Bhansali doesn’t change it. But, Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic poem ”Padmawat” was a work of fiction, so is Bhansali’s period film. 

'Padmaavat' Review: Khilji Se Darr Nahi Lagta Saab, Karni Sena Se Lagta Hai© Viacom 18 Motion Pictures

SH: The fact that there is going to be so much unwarranted debate about this movie is proof that we may be living in the 21st century, but our thoughts and ideals, like Khilji’s dreams, are censored!

Disclaimer: Names of the authors have been changed because India mein religion ka haath kanoon se bhi lamba hai. Also, our editor is on vacation. This may be removed in the near future so take screenshots.

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