Padmaavat – Movie Review – It finally released!

The day finally arrived! Padmaavat finally was released, despite rioting, threats against the stars and physical assault of the director. I saw it in 3D which wasn’t really needed, but was my only option. It’s not the best Bhansali film ever, but it’s Bhansali so you have to see it on the big screen at least once. And I feel compelled to probably see it again, because I’m so worked up about that school bus being attacked by rioters in India over this film.

The controversy over the film even reached national news here in the US.  I heard a five minute segment on the movie’s release, and the violence surrounding it on NPR this afternoon.

 

The above is an over 16 minute video review of the film, but I try not to give any spoilers (but we all know how it ends anyway.)

As Bhansali films go — it is average. It’s not my favorite, and besides the Ghoomar song, the music is not as memorable as Bajirao Mastani. But I’m there for the costumes, the colors and the sets, and they are GORGEOUS on the big screen. My local theater only has the film in 3D so you get to see those saris swirl out at you, gold threads shining. Shahid’s abs I could write an entire sonnet about — he has never looked better on screen!

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The costumes were just even more stunning on a big screen.  The attention to detail in the jewelry, the saris, and the outfits that Shahid wore (and Ranveer) is just stunning.

Here’s a video about the design of the jewelry!

 

It was worth the cost of the ticket just to see the whole spectacle of the film, but it’s slow paced.  The run time is 2 hours 45 minutes, and believe me, at least a half hour could be easily cut.  The film feels flat and staid.  Anupama Chopra said the film lacked heart in her video review.  I also didn’t feel tension in the final moments.  We know what’s going to happen, but I’ve seen other films (like Neerja) where even though I know what’s going to happen I’m on the edge of my seat.  I just didn’t feel that.

Speaking of Neerja, the great Jim Sarbh has a much bigger role as Ranveer’s slave in the film than I had imagined.  He actually has an entire song he sings to Ranveer!  I don’t like that his whole role is to prove that Alueddin is obviously evil because he’s bisexual, but Sarbh gives his role his all.  It was just a pleasant surprise how much screen time he had.

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Aditi Rao Hyari who I last saw in Mani Ratnam’s Kaatru Velliyidai, was very good as Ranveer’s wife in the film.

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Ranveer is the stand out performance of the film.  He really chews the scenery as the Muslim conquerer villain. I hated though, that Bhansali had him almost always with a dirty face, and black clothing.

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In contrast, Shahid was shown in white and pale colors, often in a pure linen shirt ( that did blessedly still show his abs through the loose weave — I love you costume designer!!)

Shahid did well as the proud arrogant Rajput king.  Deepika was absolutely luminous as Padmavati.  I absolutely loved her introduction scene, hunting with a bow and arrow like Katniss Everdeen in the forest.  How she meets Shahid the king was awesome.  She is shown to be smarter than Shahid’s king, like a chess player that can see three moves ahead, so kudos to Bhansali for that.

The film just didn’t live up to my very heightened expectations.  I just have greater expectations for the over the top films that Bhansali makes.  The music wasn’t as notable as other films, besides the Ghoomar number which is amazing! – and I can’t help but wonder if he held back on story elements or cut certain things from the script that would have made a livelier film, but restrained himself due to the controversy.  Even though there was a disclaimer before the film saying they don’t endorse sati — the way Bhansali filmed the last moments rather did do just that, and I don’t like that message.

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I’m so worked up about the school bus being attacked in a riot about this film, that even though it’s average, I will see it multiple times just as my own personal protest.  It’s overlong and slow, but it’s Bhansali. You have to see it on the big screen at least once.

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Trailer Reactions – Solo, Bhoomi, Simran and Yuddham Sharanam

 

So many trailers came out last week!  Here are my reactions to four of the new films that I’m looking forward to seeing.

Any new movie from Dulquer Salmaan is one I’m looking foward to seeing.  After I posted this, someone commented that the film is an anthology and Dulquer will play several characters in the film.  This is just the first character, Rudhra.

 

Bhoomi shows Sanjay Dutt as the father of his daughter Bhoomi.  No subtitles but I get the basic gist that this is a revenge story.  I’m looking forward to seeing Sanjay play a father role.

 

Simran is the “maid” picture that was filmed in the States.  What I just learned is that the director Hansal Mehta is the same one who directed the fantastic Aligharh.  No subs, but it looks super quirky!

 

Finally subtitles, although they don’t show up in my reaction.  This is just a teaser for Chay Akkineini’s latest film, but it looks exciting.  Chay is definitely a great action film actor, and I’m enjoying following his career.

Kaatru Veliyidai – Mani Ratnam’s latest romantic film with complex characters

Screen-Shot-2017-03-15-at-4.04.28-PMA new Mani Ratnam film is an Event with a capital “E”.  He is one of the top Indian film directors and an auteur.  He makes the films he wants to make, and doesn’t just try to chase commercial success.  I’m lucky in that there is a theater five minutes from my house that shows Tamil and Telugu films.  I was able to catch a matinee of Ratnam’s latest film, Kaatru Veliyidai today – the title translates to something like “Breezy Expanse.”  I haven’t seen tons of Tamil films, but the ones I’ve sought out are mostly Mani Ratnam films, Roja to OK Kanmani.  He is the master.

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Kaatru Veliyidai is a romantic drama set around the Kargil War.  Karthi plays Varun or “VC”, a cocky fighter pilot, and Aditi Rao Hydari is Dr. Leela Abraham.  I have never seen Karthi in a film before, but I could tell he is a STAR and quite a good actor.

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I looked him up when I got home, and he’s the younger brother of Tamil Superstar Surya, who I really enjoyed in 24.

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Aditi I did not realize I’d seen before in a small role in the Hindi film Khoobsurat.  She is just luminously beautiful in this film, especially the way Ratnam films her.  She’s quite a good actress as well.

The film opens with VC flying his jet in a mission somewhere in Kashmir.  His plane is hit and he is forced to parachute, leading to his capture by the Pakistanis.  The film is a series of flashbacks from his time in prison to how he meets Leela and falls in love.  He gets in a car accident, and she tends to his injuries on her first day as a doctor in the general hospital in Kashmir.  There are some amazing feats of cinematography in these hospital sequences as VC goes in and out of consciousness and we see Dr. Leela reflected in his dilated eye.  He sneaks out of the hospital once he awakes, and Leela doesn’t meet him again until the Air Force ball, which is gorgeous tango dance sequence.  VC is so cocky in his attitude — his whole demeanor made me think of the film Top Gun.  He’s shocked when Leela stands him up to his invitation for a flight over the Himalayas.

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At first their relationship seems to follow a familiar path, but VC’s cockiness is also an arrogance and self absorption.  The relationship has some dark tones to it.  VC can be cruel and thoughtless.  Leela wonders why she keeps going back to VC again and again.  One scene struck me particularly when he gets her back and proclaims to his buddies in front of her, “I told you I’d bring her back.  She’s MY girl!  You owe me a whisky!”  Was it all for a bet?  Or can he really not live without her?  They have such a volatile passionate relationship, it’s really an open question if they should be together.  It reminded me in some ways of Rani and Abishek in Yuva.

Just at the moment that I was worried that Leela was turning into a dishrag at a critical juncture, she takes her life in her own hands.  And while there is one of those key “confrontation with the girl’s parents” scenes, it’s key that while they are NOT pleased with Mr. Varun Chakrapani, they don’t scream and yell.  It’s Leela who asks him to leave.  She is an adult, and she makes her own decision as to the direction of her life.  Mani Ratnam writes such great roles for women.  Both of these characters in this romance are wonderfully complex, but especially Kartihi’s VC character.

As we flash back to the prison scenes, his goal is to escape and to get back to Leela to prove he is a better man.  That leads to some gripping action scenes in the second half of the film.

I don’t think this is Mani Ratnam’s greatest film, but he truly excels at complex relationship films.  I left thinking about Roja, and Dil Se.  This is not a film about terrorism, but it does return to the theme of Kashmir.

The score is by A. R. Rahman and has some stand out songs — Rahman saves his best for Tamil cinema, and his very best for Mani Ratnam.  Ratnam has a really clever way to include the most commercial song, Azhagiye.

 

VC sends Leela a videotape (VHS! It’s 1999!) with a Marry Me song filmed with his air force buddies.  It’s sounds like the a cappella groups like Penn Masala.   It reminded me of all those amateur Youtube videos of  soldiers or sailors lip syncing and dancing.  Brilliant!

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There’s a family wedding setting for another great song, Saarattu Vandiyila.  That shot with the red powder!  Breathtakingly beautiful!

The ending left me satisfied, but yet wishing there’d been a little more.  I do like to see my rogue heroes grovel quite a bit to earn their HEA.  I’ll definitely be seeking out more films with both of the stars, especially Karthi.  Dear Reader, if you have any to recommend I watch first, let me know in the comments.

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