Saturday, October 21, 2017


Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati is expected to hit the theaters on December 1, 2017. The trailer of the eagerly-awaited film was released recently and was received with a positive response. As always, the trailer showcases the trademark strength of Sanjay Leela Bhansali in creating visually stunning spectacles. Padmavati is the story of Rani Padmavati, the Rajput queen and the wife of Rawal Ratan Singh, the ruler of Mewar. In 1303, Alauddin Khilji attacked Mewar with the aim of capturing Padmavati. The Rajput forces were defeated. However, instead of surrendering to Khilji, Padmavati is said to have committed jauhar (self-immolation) to protect her honor. The film portrays her story and stars Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor, and Ranveer Singh in the lead roles.
There is Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati, dressed in traditional costumes and jewelry. Since the film is based on Padmavati, the background music in the trailer is also about her. The lyrics say, "Rani sa Rajputi shaan hai, Rani sa mhaari aan baan hai." The queen is the pride of the Rajputs; she is our honor and dignity. She is often seen inside the temple of Lord Shiva with the shivling and the tridents, representing the legend of Parvati and Shiv. 
The trailer brings out the contrast in the personalities of Rawal Ratan Singh and Alauddin Khilji. Ratan is well-groomed, calm, and composed, while Khilji appears to be wild and has a flair for drama showing all emotions. Ratan is seen wearing white representing purity; Khilji is often dressed in darker colors, representing his evilness. In one particular scene, Ratan walks with women behind him, while Khilji is sitting on a chair and men carry him. There is also a contrast in the background score in their scenes. Ratan and Khilji both seem enamored of Padmavati. While Ratan keeps looking at Padmavati while she sews pearls on his turban, Khilji keeps a padma (lotus) with him. As they are opponents, they seem to be playing chess, and later, fighting on the battlefield. This contrast is underscored also when we see that the Rajput army's flag has the sun; the Khilji army's flag has the moon. We also see Ratan and Khiji wearing their headgear that represents their pride. Khiji wears his crown; a few scenes later, Padmavati puts the warrior helmet on Ratan. 

The most discernible aspect of the trailer is that it brings out the sheer wickedness of Khilji. The first time he enters the screen, the tone of the background music changes. We see that there are birds kept captive in their cages in his lair, as if showing us how he prefers to keep people in control. Khilji is narcissistic as he is often seen near the mirrors. In the scene, where he is being carried on the chair by some men, there are some wild animal statues in the front. Also, notice how the two ends of the chair on which he is seated look like the open mouth of a wild animal. The same thing is observed in his lair, where there are two pillar-like structures that seem to look like the open mouth of some animal. Khilji eats like a wild animal. He wears clothes that are made of fur-like material. He fights and wins various gladiatorial contests. All these scenes show Khilji's ruthlessness and he is being compared to a wild beast. Ranveer Singh has completely transformed himself into this evil incarnate.
Animal Instincts
In addition, we see that all the three characters in the trailer have scenes with fire. The opening and the ending credits in the trailer are also written as sparks of a fire. Since the act of jauhar is significant to the story, perhaps, that is why there is an emphasis on fire in the trailer credits as well. 
There is a bit of Bajirao Mastani in Padmavati, especially, in the war scenes that have a sepia color palette that resembles the scenes in the former film. In Bajirao Mastani, Mastani defines her love for Bajirao where she speaks three statements that end with woh ishq. She said, "Ishq—Jo toofani dariya se bagawat kar jaaye, woh ishq; bhare darbar me jo duniya se lad jaaye, woh ishq; jo mehboob ko dekhe toh khuda ko bhool jaaye, woh ishq." Sanjay Leela Bhansali always emphasises and repeats some words. Oo ke tera, tera, tera zikr hai. In Padmavati, we see something similar again where Rawal Ratan Singh narrates the characteristics of a Rajput warrior, and he ends the phrases with woh Rajput, like Mastani did using woh ishq. He says, "Chinta ko talwar ki nok pe rakhe, woh Rajput; ret ki naav lekar samundar se shart lagaye, woh Rajput; aur jiska sar kate phir bhi dhad dushman se ladta rahe, woh Rajput." He mentions ret ki naav, a boat made of sand, and later in the trailer, we see a ret ka toofan, a sandstorm with a warrior galloping towards it. There are some other similar touches from Bajirao Mastani's trailer as well, such as men dressed in red headgear, the use of fire on the arrows, among others as shown below.
Padmavati and Bajirao Mastani
In all of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's films, there is a leitmotif of weaving representing the bond of relationships. For instance, the flag-weaving scene between Kashi and her mother-in-law in Bajirao Mastani, or Sakina weaving carpets in Saawariya. Here also, there is a particular scene where Padmavati was shown to be weaving pearls on Ratan's turban. It is one of the most beautiful scenes in the trailer.
Weaving Scenes
There is always a lot to see in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's films and he seems to be one of the rare filmmakers who still understand the mesmerizing power of the big screen. As a fan and an admirer, I am eagerly waiting not only to watch Padmavati but also learn from the vision of an indefatigable auteur. 
Other Reading:
Weaving Love—A Motif in the Films of Sanjay Leela BhansaliLink

Dialogue of the Day:
"Rajputi kangan me utni hai taakat hai, jitni Rajputi talwar mein."
Rani Padmavati, Padmavati


  1. Pankaj, you had also pointed out how water represents love in SLB movies. During the pearl sewing scene.. we could see the water behind it.. with light waves.. perhaps showing the love awakening amongst both.

    1. Hi, Roshni,
      Absolutely. Also, if you see the water has lotuses, another symbol for Padmavati. I am waiting to see the full scene in the movie to get a more insights.
      Hope you are well :)

    2. Yes. I have a sneaky suspicious that Padmavati is the second wife in this movie. For Bajirao you had pointed out the difference in kashi bai and mastaani clothing as purple and red.. if you look here just before the water scene Padmavati is in purple outfit and during the sewing scene she is in red. This makes me feel he is married when he meets her, but then marries her also and because Padmavati is rajput and everything she legally and socially accepted unlike Mastaani, hence the transition to purple outfits.

      You will also see her wooing the King in a red dress during ghoomar song.

    3. She was the second wife of Ratan. In Ghoomar song, the lady in pink is his first wife. Yes, her purple color is visible in Ghoomar as well :)

  2. Hi Pankaj. As a Bhansali fan since I was little, I love your analysis of his work. You always make me see things I did not notice or bring a new light.
    In the trailer, I also noticed some similarities with the story of Ram, Sita and Raavan. Bhansali loves the reference to myths as you pointed out in Bajirao Mastani. I thought to myself during the trailer that Khijli is looking like a Raavan and Padmavati and her husband look pure like Ram and Sita. But I am not hindu and my knowledge of the topic is very superficial. What do you think?

    1. Hi Fari,
      Great observation. You are right. It could be Ram and Sita story as well. He did a little in Ram Leela as well. We will see in the movie as well.

  3. Please, PLEASE do an analysis of Padmavati when it gets released. I loved your analysis of Bajirao Mastani!

  4. Hey i found there is a scene in hum dil de where vanraj's father mentions he is rajput and padmavat is a tribute to rajputs is there any similarity btw two movies.


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