Padmavat Full Summary (SPOILERS) Part 3: A Lot of Filler, and then a Bad Life Lesson

Next part!  I think I am on the downward stretch now.  Partly because there is an awful lot of what feels like “filler” starting with this section.  So I can skip all kinds of things, or at least only deal with them briefly. (full index of Padmavat here)

In the last section, I got all the way to Ranveer kidnapping Shahid.  He whisks him back to Delhi and sends a message that he will let him go in exchange for Deepika.  Deepika is told that she can’t possibly go, but then Anupriya (the first wife) sends for her and declares that this is all her fault, and without Shahid, the fort of Chittor and the kingdom of Mewar will inevitably fall.

Interesting small thing here!  The concept that royalty is so entirely contained within one man.  There isn’t even a discussion of who his regent would be, if he has an heir, none of that.  Just a basic assumption that Shahid is Mewar and Mewar is Shahid.  Very Louis XIV, L’etat Cest Moi.

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(I think he might have better legs than Shahid, based on the FilmFare outfit)

Anyway, Deepika declares she will go, but she has conditions.  And Ranveer receives those conditions.  First, that she can bring with her 800 attendants and they will stay in the woman’s quarters.  Second, that she will meet her husband and see him freed before she meets Ranveer.  And third, that she wants the head of the Brahmin.  The Brahmin laughs when he hears this, as though it will clearly never happen.  But Ranveer simply smiles and says that he accepts.  And Dips receives her head on a plate.  Which looks Super Fake!!!!  Like, 1970s Hammer film level of special effects.  First, again, WHERE DID THE MONEY GO????  All the money Bhansali got for this film?  And second, what the heck kind of head preservation technology did the Khilji’s have in the 1300s?  How is it so well-preserved?

There is a scene of the royal someone coming to talk to Deepika and ask what she is doing lowering her honor, and Deepika merely says that she is looking at plans of the Khilji palace and planning.  And then throws red powder over all the plans.

Blah Blah, plot happens.  Deepika and her huge group of attendants all get into their carrying carriages and take off across the desert.  Finally arriving in Delhi and gracefully getting down, all veiled.

Meanwhile, Ranveer is dealing with his own plans.  His wife Aditi is against this whole thing, but in a scared way.  Jim Sarbh is egging him on.  There is an obvious moment where Ranveer is seated in his throne with Aditi on one side and Jim on the other, both leaning over his shoulder.  They are fighting over him, trying to make him pick.  Who will greet Deepika when she first arrives.  Ranveer picks Aditi.

Okay, pause!  Let’s unpack this stuff.  First, the whole idea of the carry carriages is insane and shows Bhansali’s dedication to drama over reasonable.  Why in the world would 800 women travel in this insanely inefficient way?  One woman, sure.  But a minor Rajput kingdom, even a major Rajput kingdom, couldn’t possibly have the resources for this.  Some of these women would be walking, or in horse drawn carriages, or SOMETHING besides the very elegant and exclusive and romantic way they are being carried.  It supports a whole fantasy of women being kept veiled and hidden away at any cost, rather than acknowledging the obvious reality of both then and today that hiding a woman in such a way is simply not viable, society could not function, and women are much stronger than the fantasy likes to acknowledge.

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(This thing.  Is it always a “doli” or just at weddings?)

Second, Bhansali is revealing a difficulty with numbers here.  It’s been present all along, this just makes it obvious.  Deepika has 800 attendants.  And a further 1600 at least to carry their carriages.  Earlier, Shahid ordered that the families surrounding the fort be brought in for safety.  And the fort itself is beautiful, plants and fountains and so on.  So, that’s 800 high class women, and 1600 serving men.  And there must also be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of heavy laboring servants, not just the ones who play games and do embroidery, but the ones who weed the water plants and skim off the pond scum.  Plus all the people of the surrounding farms.  We are talking easily 20-30 thousand people.  But the film never gives us the feel of that.  These numbers are quoted for effect, but have no real meaning to Bhansali, no sense of the sort of civilization and bustling community being supported.  And anyone who is not an upperclass beautifully clothed person is essentially invisible.

Oh shoot, I forgot a scene!  Before all of this, Ranveer had a bit of a power struggle with Aditi’s cousin, the heir to her father who Ranveer usurped.  And during an insane and very odd Turkish/Russian style dance, Ranveer was shot with poisoned arrows.  And then he is ill, Jim Sarbh and Aditi tend to him, the courtiers gather outside, the nephew comes in to comfort him, and Ranveer wakes up to strangle him.  And after that they start preparations for Deepika’s imminent arrival and there is the scene where Ranveer picks between Aditi and Jim Sarbh.  And all of this is really really dull.  Thank goodness they put in that strange dance scene just to wake us up.

(This song)

This entire plot could have been removed.  No need to deal with Ranveer’s internal power struggles, or even get any more details on his relationships with Aditi and Jim Sarbh, we’ve got a pretty good idea what is going on with them.  Ranveer does need to be unable to move in his next scene with Shahid for some reason, but they could have easily come up with a different one.  Heck, just have Aditi poison him or something!  This whole 20 minute section reeks of filler.  As does the loooooooooooooooooooooooong sequence of Deepika and her attendants traveling.

Finally things start to happen when Aditi greets Deepika and takes her immediately to Shahid. Who is chained up in the dungeon with his arms outstretched, very Mughal-E-Azam, and also what Bhansali JUST did in Bajirao with Deepika!  Aditi sends away the guards and immediately helps Deepika to rescue Shahid, saying she will guide them through hidden tunnels because this is such a sin.  And then she does.  But first Shahid stops off to say “hi” to Ranveer.  Ranveer, who because he is still recovering from poisoning cannot attack him.  And Shahid cannot attack because his arms are useless after being chained up.  Both actors to a phenomenal job with their body language, showing the desire to move but the physical inability to do it.  And then Dips and Shahid leave through the tunnels, with Aditi wishing them “Khuda Gawah” as they go.  And then facing judgement from her husband, who sends her to the dungeons.

(Speaking of Khuda Gawah, remember just 25 years ago when Amitabh and Sridevi played noble wonderful Afghani Muslims?  Good times!)

Blah blah, again.  There are some minor interesting points here.  For one thing, Aditi sees this as a grave sin.  Clearly because Deepika is married, there is something different and extra wrong in taking a woman by force when she has a husband, versus just taking a woman by force.  And of course, conversely, there is something extra “sinful” in a married woman who allows herself to be taken like this.  Oh, and Deepika supports that in a small scene when we see that she has ordered her maids to cover the mirrors in mud so that she will not be able to see her own face again until Shahid sees it.  She is a perfect wife, because she only exists as a reflection of her husband.  Literally.

Their escape is covered by the 800 attendants, who reveal themselves to be warriors in woman’s garb rather than the women they were thought to be.  Two men die who, frankly, I don’t remember ever seeing before, but the film expects us to mourn deeply.  And Deepika and Shahid return to their kingdom in triumph, once again being the perfectly matched pair.

Backing up for a moment to the two men.  This is a major problem for Bhansali.  Beyond his central characters, no one really has a personality.  Even his central figures rely heavily on the actor to carry them more than the script or directing.  To me, Bhansali has done best when he picks up on strong star personas to help carry the film.  Amitabh as the wise old teacher in Black, Madhuri as the charming and vivacious dancing girl in Devdas, even Salman as the boyish joyful new boy in town in Khamoshi.  His problems are particularly notable with female characters, his actresses have to fight to be memorable as more than a pretty face.  In this film, the best writing goes to Shahid, Ranveer, and Jim Sarbh.  Deepika is given little to work with, the outline of a character more than a character (“devoted beautiful wife” pretty much covers it).  Even Aditi has more to do, although she was also clearly cast more for her fragile innocent look than anything else.  But the non-male leads also suffer.  I can’t recognize any of Ranveer’s non-Jim Sarbh followers scene by scene, and I certainly have no idea who these two “noble” Rajputs are who die dramatically in order to allow Dips and Shahid to escape.  And yet Bhansali expects us to mourn their death.  It’s just BAD WRITING.

(The only reason this feels at all Devdas-y is because Madhuri is building a perfect Chandramukhi, and Shahrukh a perfect Devdas, outside of what they are given by the script and director)

As I said many times, I think this is Bhansali’s best written film since Khamoshi.  But that doesn’t mean it is flawless.  His female characters are still barely sketched in.  And this whole section has no real purpose.  He tries to create feeling through these two deaths, but it is a last minute addition, there was nothing to build these characters up in such a way that we feel these deaths.  I did care a little about Aditi finally standing up to her husband and then being sent to the dungeons.  And we got Deepika’s “strong female character” moment (not really, but close enough to fool people), when she comes up with this plan.  But really, it’s all filler.  Aditi could have spoken up and been punished just as easily by objecting to something else.  Deepika could have lost her “oooo, I have a military plan!” moment. There was no real need in the narrative for this “Shahid is kidnapped, then rescued, and now we are all back inside the fort again” detour.

 

And now they are all back inside the fort again and Ranveer orders his troops to prepare full on assault.  And, FINALLY, the end is in sight!  Ranveer sends one last message, a love poem, asking for Deepika.  Which she throws in the fire after reading.  And then Ranveer goes outside his tent to wait all night, hoping to be the first person to see her leaving the fort to come to him.

This film is such an odd mixture of practical warfare and high-falutin’ fake virtues.  We had Shahid quoting strategy during the first siege, and the clearly well-designed fort.  But at the same time, they won’t even discuss the possibility of Deepika going to Ranveer, or even pretending to go to him in some way to gain a strategic advantage.  This is now beyond just not showing his wife to a guest, this is now the life and death of some unknown number of people, and the “nobility” is in putting a woman’s virtue above all of that.  From the same guy who happily went off to Sri Lanka and married a second wife!  Which, I know, was acceptable at the time.  But it still seems to show some open-mindedness which is lost here.

Both sides prepare for battle.  Shahid and Deepika say good-bye.  She has him put red handprints on a white scarf as she holds it.  And then she asks his permission to commit Jauhar, since as a good wife, she cannot even die without his permission.  I’m so tired, I don’t want to bother going into how, once again, this is BAD.  Especially because it means the converse is true, a good wife will kill herself if ordered to do so by her husband.

(I found the white cloth with prints in this film much more effecting.  Partly because it was a symbol of a man’s desire for his wife which surprised him, instead of a woman’s devotion to her husband which is expected by everyone)

And then, battle!  And, once again, Bhansali gives up on giving us a solid battle scene.  Instead, Shahid and Ranveer fight one on one.  Which also feels kind of right, this has been a battle of wills between the two of them all along, the noble straight (literally straight backed) Rajput in white versus the scuttering blackclad Khilji.  Only it is Jim Sarbh who actually turns the tide.  Shooting arrows into Shahid’s back in the middle of the fight, breaking the rules of battle.  Shahid and Ranveer are perfectly matched, both fighting this battle by themselves.  But they both have a secret weapon behind them, someone who thinks differently than they do.  Ranveer has Jim Sarbh, willing to break the bounds of society.  And Shahid has Deepika, willing to go further within society.

Meanwhile, back in the fort, Deepika is in the Shiva temple.  She was here before, while waiting for Shahid to come back from meeting Ranveer.  Someone asked me in a comment why she became a devotee of Shiva after being a Buddhist.  It is part of her assimilation journey.  She dresses in red, she does the “Ghoomar” dance, she worships Shiva, she is becoming more Rajput than the Rajputs.  And now this is the culmination.  The outsider woman has the clearest grasp of the values at this moment, and suggests that the women prepare for their own “secret” war, in the shadows, and perform the rite of Jauhar.

FINALLY!  The interesting bit!!!!!  The funny thing is, if this weren’t a mass suicide, it would be a wonderfully fascinating moment of female bonding.  Deepika giving this speech from Shiva’s platform, taking the role of the Brahmin who used to live there.  Convincing the women of their own free will, not forcing them.  And Deepika feeding the first poison (?) leaf to Anupriya, the first wife, before Anupriya feeds it to here.  The two women setting aside their petty differences in this moment.  And then all the women, old and young, dressed in red, going through the motions of something they clearly all know how to do and what to do, no hesitation.

If this were a ceremony of preparation for something else, I would love this.  The idea that there is a power in woman, a bond between women, that is lost on outsiders.  But instead, the only time women are allowed this bond, is when they prepare to kill themselves.

(Compare it with, for instance, this scene.  In which Preity’s mother and grandmother and friend and little sister all gather together to prepare her for marriage)

Also, this sequence goes ON AND ON AND ON!!!!!!  Oh my gosh!  I thought Karan Johar didn’t know how to end I film, I forgot how deadly dull Bhansali is at the end.  The women keep gathering and walking and gathering and walking and on and on and on and on.  Meanwhile, Ranveer has broken through the fort, and is running towards the center of it to find Deepika.  Running, walking, running walking, fire, blah blah blah.

Until, finally, Ranveer is right outside.  And is greeted by a row of veiled red dressed women.  Which surprises him and throws him back.  And then two women run from the back carrying burning coals on a cloth between them and throw it at him.  Again and again, they hold him back this way, until his guard arrives to block him with their shield.  He reaches the doors, finally, just in time to get a glimpse of red as the door closes, and meanwhile Deepika (carrying the white scarf with red handprints) has FINALLY walked into the wall of fire.

Now, that bit at the beginning with the red dressed women throwing coals on him, that was AWESOME!!!  I want more of that!  I want the women left inside the fort to fight back like that, to have some kind of strategy beyond “lets all kill ourselves!”  In fact including it makes everything worse.  They have the ability in some small way to fight back, the instinct to do so.  But they are “nobly” choosing to kill themselves instead.

There seems to be no strategy here, not even so much as Deepika being aware that losing her will cause Ranveer to lose all faith in himself and therefore her death will defeat him.  No, it’s just a straight up “death is the answer” speech that she gives, no logic behind it.

Here’s another thing that puzzles me.  Bhansali makes sure we see that little girls are part of the crowd too.  But where are the little boys?  All the soldiers are dead, but what about the boys, the ones too small to even lift a sword.  Like me, did you immediately think “oh, they must have been sent to safety”?  Now, think that through.  We found it believable that the men would go to fight, the little boys would be sent to safety, but the little girls would not be sent to safety, nor would the women, because it is their job to kill themselves if there is a loss.  They have no value, not the kind of value that is worth coming up with some way of saving their lives.  Even to themselves, their lives have no value.

(This has nothing to do with anything, I just thought we could all use something happy)

As I said in some comment, the point of the original poem as I understand it is that this was a Pyrrhic victory for Aluaddin.  The men fought so valiantly that there was not one left alive.  And the women burned themselves to nothing before he arrived.  So he gained an empty fort, won but won nothing.  And that was what defeated him.

The later opera focused on the “Sati” aspect of it, Aluaddin desired Padmavati and so killed her husband, but she was so distressed at the death of her husband that she killed herself.  Again, a bit of a dramatic irony kind of thing, in order to get her he had to kill her husband.  But killing her husband meant she would kill herself.

But this film, this film chooses to glorify the Jauhar itself.  To make it a decision and a point of pride in the women, not the end result of Aluaddin’s actions.  Jauhar, on its own, is a noble and wonderful thing, a secret womanly thing (by the way, that also makes it unacceptable for a man to kill himself in the same situation, under imminent threat of rape and torture followed by death.  Because this is a “woman thing”).  After going back and forth about this in the comments, I started thinking about rape followed or preceded by suicide in general.

As I see it, there are two ways it is usually represented in film.  The first is that the rape (or rape attempt) itself is a tragedy that is the fault of the rapist and the suicide is a further result of that tragedy, and also the fault of the rapist.  The rape-or-attempted-rape-and-then-suicide is just all around awful and all it makes you feel is regret and sadness over the death of your beloved sister/sister-in-law/girlfriend, and a desperate desire that she had lived.  This isn’t a great way to deal with rape, because it still makes the whole thing about the man who is the rapist and the man who avenges the rape, not the rape survivor herself.  But at least it treats rape and suicide as related and both awful.  And makes it totally absolutely clear that suicide is BAD. It is not a thing you should do, it is not a thing that your family wants you to do, they want you to survive and they will be driven crazy with grief if you do not survive.  Yes, even if you have been raped and are sad and different, they still want you to live.

Mom is a great recent twist on this idea, which I highly highly highly recommend as counter programming to this!  The survivor in that survives something that must be about the same as what these women would have gone through if the fort had been taken.  And her family is only able to hold itself together because she is alive, that is their only concern, that she remains alive and happy and they are thankful that is the case.  There is no “it would have been better if she died” nonsense.  And in that case, they make the avenger into a woman (no duh, it’s in the title) thereby keeping the story about women even if the rape survivor is not at the center of it.

(Translation: “Oh dear one, for you, the lamps of prayers are burning” Very different from “I would rather you died with honor than lived dishonored” that Padmavat seems to be selling)

But the other way suicide is handled is as though it is a great triumph of Indian/Hindu morals and virtues.  The woman who kills herself because a man sees her naked, because her boyfriend leaves her after she has slept with him, for all sorts of reasons short of rape.  And it is all supposed to be honorable and wonderful and admirable and the sort of old-fashioned values that are tragically lost in the world today.  I don’t think this is how families react in real life when they learn their daughter was photographed on a cell phone and then killed herself, I don’t think they say “oh how noble and admirable!”

But the girl doesn’t know that.  Films, especially this film, are telling her that suicide is good, that her parents will be happy to find her body hanging from a ceiling fan, proud of her decision.  That her brother will show her photo with pride and tell his friends, “that’s my little sister, she drank poison at 15 because a boy convinced her to sleep with him, I am so proud of how she defended our family honor”.  That her friends will say “that’s my friend since kindergarten.  In college, she got pregnant without being married and jumped under a train.  It taught me how wonderful our Indian values are.”  That a police officer will stumble on her body with a knife through the gut and say “oh how noble, she shoved a knife into her body and slowly bled out rather than be raped.  I shall go home tonight and tell my little girl about this heroine as her bedtime story.”

You may say I am exaggerating, and I might agree with you, except that the film itself tells us this.  At the end of it, over the last image of Deepika going into the flames, a voice over reminds us that we should admire and honor the bravery of these women and on and on.  And I looked around the theater, and saw the little girl sitting in front of me watching this with rapt amazement and thought “what is she learning from this?  Is she going to go home with her friends and ‘play Jahuar’?  Is this now the way she sees Indian values, female bravery?”

I don’t think Bhansali consciously intended this message, because I don’t think he thought about that little girl.  I don’t think he imagined women at all in his audience, or in the world.  And that is what is so dangerous, the argument over these scene revolves around honor killings (committed by men), women being told they should have killed themselves instead of being raped (told by men), or women being pressured to kill themselves (by men) in reaction to these scenes.  The male audience is the concern.  Lost in all of this, again, is the female perspective.  Not a feminist analysis of this scene or anything as highbrow as that, but simply a reminder that there are little girls in the audience learning lessons in life from what they see onscreen.  And is this what you want them to learn?

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(Remember adorable Haarshali Malhotra?  Now, picture her sitting in a movie theater thinking “yes, I want to be all pretty and wonderful like Deepika and kill myself”)

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29 thoughts on “Padmavat Full Summary (SPOILERS) Part 3: A Lot of Filler, and then a Bad Life Lesson

  1. Two theories-

    First, maybe the head chopping thing happened in the winter. Temperatures can drop to near zero in the north so maybe that helped!

    Second theory- Bhansali never officially revealed the final budget for the film. The first Karni Sena incident happened at the very start of the filming process when a lot of the proposed budget was probably unreleased. Then the Karni Sena slap thing happened. And it shocked both Viacom 18 and SLB because they were expecting these people to be the core repeat customers for their product. As it became more and more obvious that the film might get a ban or at the least run into major trouble, the makers shrunk the budget.

    The money laundering thing is curious and an obvious theory but with Bahubali earning so so much at the beginning of this year, the makers could have hoped for a similar outcome for their extra costs. BUT maybe they saw the trouble coming (Viacom 18 group news channels are part of the media fanning the fire against the film) and decided investing in this wasn’t worth the bother so they cheaped out, waited for the controversy to get them guaranteed success at the box office and made a subpar film that would double their investment no matter what.

    Not a single review of the film says anything amazing about the sets, the CGI, the costumes or anything about the grandiose backdrop.

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    • I’m also not seeing much coverage of the sets and stuff, I remember with Bajirao they interviewed the set designers and talked about their vision, and promoted particular outfits, and on and on. But with this, it’s just not even part of the conversation that I can see.

      Which doesn’t mean I found it a flaw of the film! In fact, one of my issues with Bajirao is that it seemed to be more about hte sets than the characters. But it still leaves the puzzle of WHAT DID THEY SPEND THE MONEY ON??????

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        • I’m getting such a Producers vibe off of this! Come up with a story that is unfilmable and unloveable, hire an insane director, lie about how mush money it costs, and pocket the extra when it fails.

          Which is in fact what is happening over and over on a smaller scale with production houses quoting inflated budgets to outside studios and pocketing the extra. Only this time i feels like the production house was sincere (one thing I absolutely believe about Bhansali is that he truly cares about art more than money), so I have no idea who is pocketing the money. Could Viacom 18 be ripping off Paramount? I am down for that.

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          • Looking at the sets (which looked less than lavish in whatever material was used for promos), the costumes (basic red saris and what looks like rental imitation jewellery), shoddy CGI (wherever it was used) and battle scenes left to the imagination (when the jauhar just HAD to be shown *eye roll*), do you honestly feel THIS is 100% Bhansali’s best? To be honest, Bajirao really looked like it was born out a true passion for the details of the sets. I think I made a comment when the ghoomar song came out that the sets looked way way dull than a standard SLB fare.

            Viacom 18 is owned by the guy who owns our government right now. Do you honestly think they really couldn’t get their friends in high places to shush the irritants away IF they wanted it to be so? This film could be the biggest insurance scam happening right in front of our eyes. The possibilities for wrongdoing and cooking the books are endless with this film.

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          • See, I always like Bhansali when his budget is down to the bone, so he has to focus on the script instead of the visuals. As a film, I found this much much better than Bajirao just because it was story focused instead of spectacle. There’s still the lingering question of where all the money went, but I’m glad that most of it wasn’t onscreen because I think it makes Bhansali a better story teller.

            On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 8:10 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. What happened to the little boys? Why, they were killed by their family members just like their little sisters albeit not by jumping into a funeral pyre.Slavery and castration(for those of the royal family) awaited them.I guess the makers decided that death by sword was so prosaic that the little girls got all the attention.

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    • Heck, watching a woman kill her son would be way more dramatic to me than watching a little girl jump into a fire! And also a much more interesting character moment. Now I am playing this out, it would have been Deepika’s speech, and then all the women going home and killing their son’s/brothers/elderly father’s, and then gathering to kill themselves. Which is also more accurate to how this level of despair usually plays out, it was common for slaves in America to kill their children and then themselves, abused wives kill their children and themselves, the idea being that you are saving your children from a life of misery, and then you yourself are so unhappy afterwards that death is a relief.

      Didn’t women throw their children in the well in Jailanwalla Begh before jumping in themselves? AT least, that’s how I’ve always heard the story.

      On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 8:40 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Kerala has the dubious distinction of being the suicide capital.And it’s common for women to kill their children or even for families to commit suicide together.So I guess that particular trait is universal.There’s even a black and white movie Thulabharam about a mother who’s prosecuted after failing in a suicide attempt.Her children unfortunately die.
        Coming back to Padmavati, the women wouldn’t have to put the male kids to the sword.A male family member would do the necessary before committing suicide himself.It seems like the glorification of suicide and associating it with honor has a lot in common with the Japanese Samurai culture.

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        • And again, why didn’t we see that? There was this focus on every single man dying in battle, but did someone stay home to kill the children? Or kill them before they left? It’s not that I want to be super nit-picky, it’s just that the argument of “well, this is how it was, we are just showing what happens” has the obvious flaws of “no, you are choosing to show part of what happened because this other stuff must have happened too and we aren’t seeing it.” I even respect the artistic choice to focus on the Jahaur, that is a legitimate choice to pick what you are showing, just own the fact that you made the choice, you know?

          There’ve been a couple of high profile real life cases in America of mothers who killed their children but survived themselves. Mostly extreme cases of postpartum depression, feeling like their children would be happier and better off in heaven than on earth with this “terrible” mother. It does seem to be a universal possibility in desperate times.

          On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 10:18 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Interesting comparison with the Japanese culture. That made me think. I suppose jauhar would be remembered as a noble act had we not had hundreds of years of sati, the mistreatment of widows (even today), honor killings (even today), rape as punishment (even today), repression of women in the name of honor (even today).

          A lot of historic tales or mythological tales have really weird situations and events that are remembered widely in Ghar culture but which don’t go mainstream as part of the living culture. Like Draupadi being asked to be shared amongst five brothers because mother said so. (sidenote: Devasena would have not submitted to that request! Hah!) or the Eklavya thumb chopping thing (which I think wasn’t voluntary and extremely casteist because they couldn’t stand a lower caste boy being a better archer than the upper caste princes)

          Jauhar and other marks of defending one’s honor would look great had we had the luxury of having been at a distance from them. This is effectively what swara says in her letter- India today isn’t the place where this movie could be released.

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  3. Wow. Thanks for the detailed summary. Not sure now I’ll ever see this. Maybe on a plane one day if there’s nothing else–that’s how I ended up seeing Bajirao. That one simple call out contrasting the use of the white cloth with red prints between Paheli and Padmaavat says a lot.

    The one thing I really don’t like about Pardes is the way that the film ends with the main characters hugging their abusers. I mean, the girl’s father has said directly to her that he wishes that she’d have died rather than come back from the US after being assaulted. Ugh.

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    • Yes! But at least in Pardes I had a feeling of complexity. The ending is frustrating, but before that you have Mahima fighting (literally fighting) for her right to happiness, and her grandmother speaking up for her. And Shahrukh, our Perfect Hero, finally coming around to fighting for her too. There were layers there, in that ridiculous silly modern romance, that I didn’t see as much in this film, there weren’t any moments questioning the status quo, just upholding it.

      Also, in both Pardes and DDLJ, I come back to that ultimately they left! The happy ending was for our hero and heroine to leave this man behind and start their new life somewhere else. Sure, they forgive and loved and all that, but they still went away.

      On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 9:29 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I don’t know what kind of carriages were used in the movie but the one DevaSena was in during her intro in BB2 is pretty commonly used by women from rich families when they stepped out of the house(At least in Andhra Pradesh). There is Pallaki used by the richest and Mena used by 2nd tier rich people. Pallaki is rich, ornate and heavy. Mena is lighter, simpler with lesser headroom. They would travel in bullock carts on the roads between villages and use Pallaki/Mena before entering the village.

    my mom had to use it when she was a kid and said it was super uncomfortable so can’t imagine grown up women liking it. Thankfully the custom stopped during her early teens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That exactly answers my question. The carry carriages make complete sense for short distances or within towns (I think something similar was used in the west in the same period) because they would be small and maneuverable. An alternative to walking if you didn’t want the woman seen in public or if someone was ill, kind of like a wheelchair. But they are so blatantly impractical for long distances, that is what made me go “huh?” in this movie. It’s like Bhansali not only ignored historical truth, but just basic common sense, in order to create the image he wanted. And if it was as common as this so recently, it’s surprising that he just went ahead and put in something that many people would know was wrong.

      I think even in Paheli, that is what we saw, they she left her family home in a “doli” but then when it switched to showing the long journey to her husband’s home, we saw everyone riding in bullock carts, because that’s the only way you could reasonably travel that kind of distance, without needing to stop every twenty minutes to let the men rest. Just makes me think that Bhansali has never dealt with traveling in anything except a luxury car, or done manual labor.

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    • There is a fascinating, and very different, tradition of male martyrdom in Indian culture, especially north Indian culture. Oh right, you’ve seen Rang De! You know about this! Bhagat Singh was one in a long history of stories of young men choosing to die in order to help their people. I can’t articulate very well, but it is the same idea of choosing death, only it feels so so different somehow. Like, death isn’t to avoid something bad, it is a conscious sacrifice of something good in order to make a statement. And female freedom fighters made the same kind of choice, public suicides in order to make a statement and draw attention to their cause. Which is so so so so so so close to what this film is arguing, but just not quite there.

      On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 9:46 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Exactly. And there would have been a way to make this Padmavat a story which focused on elevating a cause, on winning by losing, etc. etc. But the choices of the filmmaker mean that is not the story we got. While in stories of Bhagat Singh, that is always the focus, death as a conscious sacrifice in order to support his cause, death which we should honor by living well, and so on. So clearly Indian filmmakers know how to do it! They just don’t see female suicide as “martyrdom” the same way they see male suicide.

          On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 10:46 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Pingback: Padmavat Full Coverage Index | dontcallitbollywood

  6. I’m glad someone else has the same random thoughts as me.
    For example, the heads! Seriously! Fake and well preserved? What is this nonsense. Also, so many heads rolling around in this film. I think they enjoyed it too much.

    Also, all the men carrying these women in an inefficient manner and what it implied.

    And how that dance sequence was necessary and bizarre. I mean that whole side plot really.

    And how every time honor and duty was mentioned I would groan a little louder.
    I’m glad you examined this film in such detail. I didn’t think about the boys of the palace. And now that you mention it WE NEVER SEE ANY.

    BTW, if you have a specific page of Hindi films you recommend, I would like to give Hindi cinema some more chances. I’ve only seen three films now. This, English Vinglish, and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. I’m not entirely sold on them but I don’t want to generalize an entire industry based on my experiences. Having a Malayali boyfriend, I find myself immersed in Mollywood, which I usually enjoy, but I want to diversify.

    Thanks for all you do.

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    • Thanks for commenting! And let me direct you to the “starter kit” link in the menu. I have one for the top Hindi stars, and for Hindi and other language films as well. Go wild!

      On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 10:49 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, and also you should buy and read my book because it is brilliant, and short, and easy to read, and tells you everything you need to know.

      On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 10:49 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Box Office: Aiyaary and Australia, a Match Made in Heaven | dontcallitbollywood

  8. OMG.. I’m having a tough time trying to finish this movie..really.. it’s so BORING..I’m past one hour 30 mins & the only thing I remember is the loving dedication in the title cards to Bansali’s parents & DOG..I’m telling you.. Dogs are taking over!!Deepika & Shahid have one expression throughout with eyeballs enlarged, & eyebrows raised-perpetually in pain/being solemn I guess.It feels like they both are ACTING or struggling to act. The Raja-Rani scenes feel like a tableau or stage play with really stupid dialogues. Comeon…who talks like that..Khilji & Mallik has waaaaaaayyyy more chemistry than the royal pair. Shahid’s costumes & styling is so weird-some kinda Anarkali like thing with overly kohled eyes that makes him look all girly. Really why not make him wear something that shows off his body. Ranveer is magnificent & the only character who puts some life into this drudgery. I shudder to think what Bansali might come up with next.

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    • I found it about 20% less boring than Bajirao. But that’s really not saying much. Bhansali gets so up in his visuals and slow motion that his films start to feel all the same. Not just the same film to film, but within a film, you get deja vu of “wait, is this the scene I already saw or a new one?”

      On Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 12:54 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Finally watched this movie.Have to say it was a lot more strategic than I thought it would be, I thought it would be full of battles like Bajirao. Like you said, the bit about Shahid going to see Ranveer, getting captured coming back felt like filler or maybe they wanted to drive in the fact that Ranveer reaalllly wanted to see Padmavati before trying to claim Mewar maybe? I like the scene where he tells the Brahmin (who should defo get cast as Chanakya someday) that she better be worth it! Wish there were more scenes like that.

    Jim Sarbh I thought was treated respectfully, he really was in love/covetted Khilji, every time Ranveer spoke about Padmavati he winced a little. Initially I thought Shahid was miscast (he looked completely drowned in those costumes but his physical acting was soooo good. He uses his eyes really well, and there is a grace to his movements) but later realized that maybe Bhansali wanted an actor with Shahid’s build. He wanted Padmavati to the bigger person in this. She was definitely more strategic (she keeps saying you have to win using tactics, war alone doesn’t work). Buuut I was disappointed with Deepika, hers was the worst performance. She had the same expressions as she did in Bajirao. Maybe a different actress would’ve helped – like Anushka Shetty.

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    • Yep, we agree on pretty much everything! Especially Dips, I don’t understand how she and Ranveer got all those accolades when for me it was Shahid that was a revelation. Ranveer was good, but we knew he would be good, it was a perfect role for him and the showpiece role of the film. Shahid managed to make an impression in a far less showy way and in a way outside of his usual acting style. I think you are absolutely right about the physical, now that you say that I am realizing he reminded me of how Hrithik played Akbar. It was far less in the dialogue and more in the way of carrying himself like a king. I guess that’s what you get when you cast a dancer.

      On Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 2:49 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I’ve always felt that Deepika is an overrated actress, her dialog delivery being her bane. It is extremely monotonous, and doesn’t modulate well. Sounds the same when she’s happy/sad/angry.
        Shahid and Ranveer were very evenly matched.Hope Bhansali takes a break from Deepika/Ranveer though, need him to direct others!

        Like

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