Now Showing: hypermasculinity

At the media preview, decoding what the much-debated film, Padmaavat, is all about.

Written by Alaka Sahani | New Delhi | Published: January 24, 2018 1:44:58 am
Padmaavat movie, padmaavat controversy, Allauddin Khilji, rajput culture, padmaavat screening, indian express, bollywood, masculinity in bollywood films A still from the film

WHEN Allauddin Khilji (played by Ranveer Singh) gets ready for his visit to the Chittor palace, as a finishing touch, he empties a bottle of perfume on a slave girl. He then bodily lifts her and rubs her on himself. In another scene, a Rajput lieutenant is beheaded in a confrontation. Yet, his decapitated body keeps wielding a sword.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s much-beleaguered new movie, Padmaavat (previously titled Padmavati), focusses a lot on hypermasculinity and valour. Those protesting against the movie can rest assured that there is nothing in it to suggest that Rani Padmavati’s “honour” is at stake, unless one takes into consideration her husband Rawal Ratan Singh not following her advice and running into trouble. The movie also offers enough reasons to celebrate Rajput culture.

In spite of this, two cops seated in the auditorium of IMAX at Mumbai’s Pheonix Mill, during a special screening for mediapersons on Tuesday afternoon, reminded us that even though the film is releasing on January 25, all is not well for the team yet. Though the Supreme Court has lifted the ban on it, the movie might face obstacles in Gujarat and Rajasthan. However, with R Balki’s Pad Man and Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary shifting their release date to February 9, Padmaavat will be the solo Hindi film release on the day. According to sources in Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, co-producers of this period drama, it would be a pan-India release and they are aiming for 5,000 screens.

After three disclaimers at the beginning — regarding the film being based on Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic poem Padmaavat, not supporting the ritual of Sati, and no animal being hurt during its making — the 163-minute movie makes Padmavati’s impending tragic fate amply clear. The opening credit runs in the backdrop of a traditional mural that shows women standing in a queue as ambers fly across the big screen and its surround sound suggest crackling of burning timber.

When we first meet Padmavati as the princess of Singhal, she is hunting a deer and there is a certain playfulness around her. Soon, one discovers that she is Buddhist. After tying the knot with Ratan Singh and shifting to Chittor, she quickly becomes adept at the Mewar way of life. She answers tricky moral questions and performs ghoomar for Gauri Puja with equal ease. For those curious to know, her midriff is covered during the Ghoomar song as well as most part of the movie.

The movie ends with the narrator reiterating Rani Padmavati’s status as a devi and how she is worshipped even today.

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