For over a year now, tensions between Bollywood and The Bombay Report have been at an all time high, after the former refused to respond to our requests to get in on the secret orgies. In the spirit of a new year, we’ve decided to forgive the Mumbai film industry by granting them a review, an honour we’d previously reserved only for the likes of bicycle shops and bars in Malad. We don’t usually watch Bollywood movies, because for some reason, only eight people in the whole industry manage to get leading roles, but with all the controversy surrounding the movie we decided to make an exception and treat the team to a great masterpiece of cinema, followed by mob violence and the burning down of whatever rubbish theatre we could afford to take them to. We were disappointed on both counts.
The theatre we were in decided to treat us with no less than twelve ads starring Amitabh Bachchan, which technically means he still managed to get more screen time than Deepika Padukone. After a series of excruciating disclaimers to pander to right wing extremists by pretending to care about Rajasthan, left wing extremists by maintaining that Johar is bad, and animal rights extremists by stating that no animals were harmed during the making of the movie, it finally began. The story is seemingly a mildly edited but still plagiarised variant of the Legend of Troy, where two mighty kings, one great and the other awful, send thousands to their deaths for the virtue of a beautiful queen, leading to the burning of a great historic city with supposedly impregnable walls.
While we won’t get into the specifics because the movie is still in theatres and you should definitely watch it, what we can say is while it certainly wasn’t entirely unwatchable, it still failed on many fronts. There’s zero character development throughout the course of the movie, and everyone is exceptionally one dimensional, even for Bollywood. Then there’s the ridiculous amount of lighting constantly on Padmavati (Deepika Padukone), which was very distracting and took away from the severity of almost every situation; she’s supposed to look radiant, not radioactive. However, the film’s greatest failing is the fact that there’s no real plot.
As expected, the sets and costumes were visually stunning, and in many ways the movie’s saving grace, but the CGI was rudimentary, especially the scene where Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) walks into the palace with an ostrich; don’t ask for context, there isn’t any. The movie was surprisingly inoffensive to normal people without an agenda, and the only thing that truly bothered us was Khilji being portrayed as some Khal Drogo cosplayer instead of the refined, cultured, mass murderer he really was. Ranveer Singh did a great job with the role, but Deepika and Shahid Kapoor (who played Maharwal Ratan Singh) were just there to look good.
Despite the fact that it’s not a great movie, or even a good movie for that matter, we’re glad it exists. It’s been unfairly criticised on all sides by people who contribute nothing to society. Whether it’s those who think the movie is disrespectful to Rajputs (which it isn’t) or mean to wamen because life in the 1300s wasn’t a feminist utopia, there will always be opportunists who seek to impose their will on others. And when they come, it’s our job to stand up for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s right to make unnecessarily long movies that nobody particularly likes.