The movie that the entire country has obsessed over for 4 months now is finally here. And what a visual treat it is. Every frame painstakingly crafted, every movement imitating poetry and every second dialogue-a one liner mic drop. But. What after that? Now I don’t think, even for a second, that it is a bad movie or even an average one but it is not what is expected out of the biggest magnum opus that the country has seen. Let’s start from the beginning.
Based on the poem of the same name (yeah now the name is the same because we have definitely stopped calling it by its former name! DUH!), the story revolves around the Rajput’s quest for honor and Khilji’s quest for lust for everything ‘nayab’. The story is simple. One ruthless barbaric king is attracted to the idea of the most beautiful queen in the world, defeats the king that the queen ‘belongs’ to but the queen, the most savage of them of all, throws a trump card, and be like- NUH HUH bro! I would rather barbecue myself. (More like Shiela, Shiela ki Jawani- I am too sexy for you, main tere haath naa aani!) Anyway, I digress.
The problem with the movie is its first half which has too many inconsequential set up scenes one after the other not moving the story or the characters at all. And the problem is the quick 2 minutes noodles love that Bhansali’s characters develop to have life long implications in all his movies. One Holi sequence in Ram-Leela, one battle together in Bajirao Mastani and one fateful arrow in this one. Side characters are all caricatures and throw in wooden dialogues with glaring eyes like nobody’s business but with no real effect. There is so much that could have been done with themes of love, loyalty, second wife drama, Alauddin’s relationship with Malik Kafur, etc. etc. but it just falls short. The second half of the movie is much better and the climax is goosebumpy. It is also because the latter half of the move is shorter, crisper and with movement.
In retrospect if you think of it, this movie could have been easily called Alauddin because it definitely belongs to him and Ranveer for playing it like a seasoned actor. (However, Bajirao hangover lingers on slightly.) He is on point with most of his scenes, even the ones which are unintentionally comic. Shahid is good in the mellow scenes but hamming away to glory in the scenes where he has to preach about Rajputana valor. Deepika is a beauty and Bhansali knows exactly how to present her- with gold make up, eye lenses and glycerin doses just enough to water those eyes in almost every scene. And she does not blink. Why Deepika, why? But that is not just her in the movie so I would give it to her.
The movie is a beautiful piece of art. The eye for detail is incomparable. It moves swiftly from one frame to another like an opera and you are transported into the world it aims to create almost instantaneously. But I couldn’t figure out if it was because of 3D rendering or visual effects that a lot of scenes featured patchy frames and shaky camera transitions. So, I guess I will have to watch it in 2D too. 🙂 Coming to the effects. NO Bhansali NO. Why would you not have better VFX? It is a 200 crore film. And if those effects looked pretty on the computer screens of the designers- you should have tested it on a theatre screen. Or they should all start doing a focused test screening for cynical observationists. Music was a let down too. I love Ghoomar and how it was picturised but rest of the other songs were not at all impactful or even required at the points they came in. What compensated for that was the background score. Especially the climax, you will know when you watch the movie.
All in all, I would strongly recommend watching it once to see what cinematic power is and the direction that the film world should move in to provide us with good quality content. And also because this is probably the last time we are going to watch a historical drama in a long long time.
Hits- Scale, Direction, Ghoomar (I have a soft corner!), Acting, Ranveer (Exclusive mention required)
Misses- Story, Screenplay, Side Characters, VFX, Music, Length of the movie- so editing, I would still prefer Bajirao Mastani over this one.