Padmaavat, formerly titled Padmavati, is a 2018 Indian epic period drama film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Loosely based on the poem Padmavat by Malik Muhammad Jayasi, it stars Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmavati, a Rajput queen known for her beauty, wife to Maharawal Ratan Singh, played by Shahid Kapoor. Sultan Alauddin Khilji, played by Ranveer Singh, hears of her beauty and attacks her kingdom to claim her. Aditi Rao Hydari, Jim Sarbh, Raza Murad, and Anupriya Goenka feature in supporting roles.
With a production budget of ₹2.15 billion (US$34 million), Padmaavat is the most expensive Hindi film and one of the most expensive Indian films ever made. Initially scheduled for release on 1 December 2017, Padmavaat faced numerous controversies. Amid violent protests, a bounty was placed on the crew and its release was indefinitely delayed. In December, the Central Board of Film Certification approved the film with five modifications, which includes the addition of multiple disclaimers and a change in title. Padmaavat was rescheduled for release on 25 January 2018 in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D formats, making it the first Indian film to be released in IMAX 3D.
Padmaavat received mixed reviews. Critics praised the visuals and Singh’s portrayal of Khilji, but criticised its storyline, execution, length and adherence to regressive patriarchal mores. Critics also disliked the portrayal of Khilji as a stereotypical evil Muslim king and Ratan Singh as the righteous Hindu king. Despite being banned in some states of India, it grossed over ₹5.25 billion (US$82 million) at the box office, becoming a commercial success and one of the highest-grossing Indian films of all time.
In 13th-century Afghanistan, Jalaluddin Khilji of Khilji dynasty, along with his courtiers, plans to take over the throne of Delhi. His nephew Alauddin Khilji supplys Jalaluddin with a rare species of ostrich, impressed, the latter promises to grant any wish of Alauddin within his power. Alauddin asks for Jalaluddin’s daughter Mehrunisa’s hand in marriage. Their wedding is organised, but on the night of the event, Alauddin engages in adultery with another woman. A nobleman witnesses the act and advises Alauddin against doing so, but is instead killed by him. Mehrunisa is informed of this during the wedding, leaving her horrified and helpless.
Meanwhile, the Sinhala princess Padmavati mistaking the Rajput ruler Maharawal Ratan Singh for a deer, accidentally wounds him while hunting in a forest. She takes him along with her and treats him, upon which he divulged his identity, who had traveled to Sinhala to acquire rare pearls for his first wife Nagmati. Over a course of events, the two fall in love. Ratan Singh asks for Padmavati’s hand in marriage, she agrees and with permission from her father, they get married. They set for Chittorgarh in Mewar, Ratan’s capital and are welcomed with pomp and circumstance save for Nagmati, who disapproves of her husband’s second marriage and is jealous of all the attention received by Padmavati.
Artistic depiction of Padmavati’s jauhar
Jalaluddin captures Delhi and declares himself the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. To consolidate his rule over the subcontinent, Jalaluddin sends Alauddin to repel a Mongol invasion. Alauddin is successful in doing so, but undertakes an unsanctioned raid on Devagiri and captures its princess. Jalaluddin is informed of Alauddin’s ambition to take over his throne from his wife and son but the former dismisses these as rumours. He journeys to Kara along with two ministers, to congratulate Allauddin. Jalaluddin gifts Alluaddin the slave Malik Kafur, who is ruthless and follows every order given. Allauddin has Jalaluddin and his guards assassinated by Malik and declares himself the new Sultan.
Padmavati journeys to Mewar with Ratan Singh and blessed by his royal priest, Raghav Chetan. Chetan is caught watching Ratan Singh and Padmavati sharing an intimate moment and is banished from the kingdom. He travels to Delhi and informs Alauddin of Padmavati’s beauty. Alauddin, who is fixated with wanting anything that is of exceptional beauty, invites the Rajputs to Delhi; his invitation is rejected. Frustrated, he lays siege to Chittor. After waiting for six months and yet unsuccessful in his attempts to conquer the kingdom, Alauddin feigns peace on account of Holi and is allowed to enter Chittor where he meets Ratan Singh. He asks to see Padmavati. The Rajputs, knowing his intentions, threaten him and tell him that he is alive only because he is a guest. Ratan Singh grants Alauddin’s request to see Padmavati, but does so only for a moment while preventing Alauddin from seeing her face.
Ratan Singh is taken prisoner by Alauddin, who demands to see Padmavati. Upon being insisted by the chief queen, she agrees. She however puts forth some conditions including that she will first meet her husband when she arrives as well as the death of Chetan, to which Alauddin agrees. She then travels to Delhi to meet Khilji. Meanwhile, Alaluddin’s nephew attempts to assassinate him. Alauddin is wounded but survives and later kills him.
While on the Sultanante’s frontiers, the Rajputs plan to ambush the Khilji soldiers in the morning which is the time for namāz. Padmavati, along with Chittor’s generals, Gora and Badal, free Ratan Singh, and escape with Mehrunisa’s help. Ratan confronts Khliji who warns him to kill him now or he will regret it, but Ratan denies stating Rajputs don’t attack the wounded. The Khilji soldiers are alerted and attack, but are ambushed by the Rajputs disguised as women. The Rajput attack is repulsed, with the ambushing Rajputs killed. In Chittor, Padmavati receives praise for saving Ratan Singh.
Alauddin imprisons Mehrunisa for helping the Rajputs and marches to Chittor. He and Ratan Singh engage in a single duel; Alauddin is nearly defeated by Ratan Singh when is shot by Kafur from behind with arrows, but berates Alauddin for fighting dishonourably before dying. The Khilji army succeeds in defeating the Rajputs and capturing Chittor, but are unable to capture the Rajput women who commit jauhar with Padmavati. preventing Alauddin from ever seeing the face of the queen he waged war over, the greatest defeat of his life.
Deepika Padukone as Padmavati – a 13th-14th century legendary Rajput queen, who was, according to Padmavat, the wife of Rajput king Ratan Singh (also known as Ratan Sen), the ruler of Mewar. The news of Padmavati’s beauty reached Sultan Alauddin Khilji, who besieged Singh’s capital, Chittor, motivated by his desire to capture the queen.
Shahid Kapoor as Ratan Singh – the last Rajput ruler of the Guhila dynasty that ruled the kingdom of Mewar. He was defeated by Alauddin Khilji’s forces during the siege of Chittor.
Ranveer Singh as Alauddin Khilji – the second and most powerful ruler of the Khalji dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate. He ascended the throne by murdering his paternal uncle and father-in-law, Sultan Jalaluddin Khalji. According to Padmavat, Khilji laid siege to Chittor motivated by his desire to capture Ratan Singh’s beautiful wife, Padmavati.
Aditi Rao Hydari as Mehrunisa– first wife of Alauddin Khilji and Queen of the Delhi Sultanate.
Jim Sarbh as Malik Kafur– a prominent eunuch slave-general of Alauddin Khilji.
Raza Murad as Jalaluddin Khilji – the founder and first Sultan of the Khilji dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate. He was deposed by his nephew and son-in-law Alauddin, who murdered his uncle to usurp the throne.
Anupriya Goenka as Nagmati – first wife and chief queen of Ratan Singh according to Padmavat. Nagmati and her husband’s second wife, Padmavati, performed jauhar together after Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittor.
An adaptation of Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic Padmavat (1540), Sanjay Leela Bhansali had been planning a film adaptation for a decade. He first worked on a television adaptation as an assistant editor for Shyam Benegal’s television series Bharat Ek Khoj (1988), based on Jawaharlal Nehru’s The Discovery of India (1946), featuring an episode about Padmavat starring Om Puri as Alauddin Khilji. In 2008, Bhansali produced an opera version in Paris, inspiring him to begin work on a film version. Padmaavat also took inspiration from other earlier adaptations of the epic, including Bengali literary adaptations from Kshirode Prasad Vidyavinode in 1906 and Abanindranath Tagore in 1909, the Tamil film Chittoor Rani Padmini (1963), and the Hindi film Maharani Padmini (1964).
Pre-production on the film began in July 2016. That same month, playback singer Shreya Ghoshal tweeted about performing a song composed by Bhansali for the film. Many media outlets speculated that Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, who played the leads in Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and Bajirao Mastani (2015), were finalised to play Alauddin Khilji and Rani Padmavati in the film. In October 2016, it was announced that Bhansali would team up with Viacom 18 Motion Pictures to produce the film with Singh and Padukone along with Shahid Kapoor as Rawal Ratan Singh, playing the lead roles.
The three main actors, Padukone (top), Kapoor (centre) and Singh (bottom).
Padmaavat is the third collaboration between Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The trio had worked before in Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela (2013) and Bajirao Mastani (2015), while it is Kapoor’s first film with the three. Their co-star from the previous films, Priyanka Chopra was also in consideration to play the title role. In January 2017, it was reported that Bhansali had approached Chopra for a cameo appearance in the film. However, in April 2017, Chopra denied her involvement in the film.
According to reports, no Bollywood actor was willing to take on Maharawal Ratan Singh’s role. Shahrukh Khan was offered the part but felt it was not “meaty” enough and declined; failure to agree on his fee may have been a factor. Shahid Kapoor was finally cast to play Ratan Singh with an assurance of a good enough part and a hefty fee. For his role, Kapoor undertook rigorous training under trainer Samir Jaura and followed a strict diet for 40 days. He also learnt sword fighting and the basics of Mardani khel, a weapon-based martial art, and admitted that it had been one of the most physically and emotionally challenging roles of his career.
Ranveer Singh portrays the antagonist of the film, Alauddin Khilji, the first negative role of his career. Director Bhansali had given him books to read delving into the psyche of dark rulers of history such as Adolf Hitler, asserting that he had to completely forget who he was before he could play Khilji. Said a source, “Ranveer is prepping his body language, mannerisms, diction and physique. He is holed up in his Goregaon apartment and has sealed himself off from people. For many hours in the day, he transforms into Khilji working on his dialogues and diction.” Singh trained under Mustafa Ahmed, who works with actor Hrithik Roshan, to get into proper shape for the role. The actor worked out twice a day for six days a week. Playing Khilji made him compare to great roles like the Joker and Alex DeLarge . For the role, Ranveer Singh spoke formal Urdu.
Jaya Bachchan recommended Aditi Rao Hydari’s name to Bhansali for the role of Khilji’s first wife, Mehrunisa. Bhansali casted Hydari over four other choices. She is the only member of the star cast who actually belongs to a royal lineage. “It’s not a major role. When I signed on for Padmavati, I knew very well it was going to be a small part. But, Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir presents all his women so well,” she said. “In Goliyon Ki Raasleela – Ram-Leela, Richa Chadha had a brief role, but she made an impact. I am sure I will leave some impact in Padmavati. No one who works with Sanjay sir comes away without benefiting from the association.”
Veteran actor Raza Murad portrays Alauddin’s paternal uncle and Khilji dynasty founder, Sultan Jalaluddin Khilji. Murad has earlier collaborated with Bhansali in Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastani. Jim Sarbh portrays Malik Kafur, a prominent eunuch slave-general of Alauddin Khilji. Sarbh learned horse-riding for the role.
On 25 October 2017, a video of the first song from the film, titled Ghoomar, was released, in which a woman dressed like a queen appeared briefly. It was later revealed in a Twitter fanpage of Sanjay Leela Bhansali Productions, that the woman is Maharawal Ratan Singh’s first wife, Rani Nagmati, who is portrayed by Anupriya Goenka.
Due to the costs mounted on the film by delay in the release, Box Office India declared the film’s budget to be ₹215 crore (US$34 million), which makes it the most expensive Hindi film and one of the most expensive Indian films ever made.
Delhi-based Rimple and Harpreet Narula designed Rani Padmavati’s costume using traditional Gota embroidery work of Rajasthan. The border derives from the architectural details of Rajasthani palace windows and jharokhas and the odhnis have been styled in conventional ways which are still prevalent in the Mewar belt of Rajasthan. The designer duo elaborated that the costume worn by Padukone in the final scene of the film features the tree-of-life motif and twisted gota embroidery and has a Kota dupatta with block printing. Padukone’s dresses were made with Sinhalese influences, as the character of Padmavati hailed from Sri Lanka.
The costumes for Shahid Kapoor were made from mulmul and cotton, with special attention given to the turbans, one of which, featuring a 28-dye lehariya, was inspired by a turban to be found at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The clothes for Ranveer Singh were based on travellers’ accounts of the Turko-Persian influence on Indian clothing (Khilji was of Turko-Afghan heritage). The costumes for Aditi Rao Hydari, who plays Khilji’s first wife Mehrunisa, incorporated Turkish, Afghan, Mongol and Ottoman elements to showcase Mehrunisa’s Turkic origins. For both Ranveer Singh and Hydari’s costumes, extensive research was done on the clothing and textiles of the Turkish belt, from Afghanistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Kazakhstan and to the Central Asian belt around Turkey.
Padukone’s look for the “Ghoomar” song features intricate jewellery weighing up to 3 kg designed by Tanishq featuring a triple Borla, Mathapatti and Bajuband which are traditional ornaments worn by the Rajasthani women.
Vipul Amar and Harsheen Arora of Delhi-based design house ‘The V Renaissance’ designed costumes for Rawal Ratan Singh and Alauddin Khilji, employing historical techniques to create the armour such as cuirboilli, sculpting, chiselling, and inlaying. The armour took a team of forty workers eight months to prepare.
In October 2017, while the cast and crew were filming a scene in Masai Plateau, Kolhapur at night, a mob of around 20–30 people armed with petrol bombs, stones and lathis charged and set the set ablaze, injuring animals and destroying several costumes. The attacks were considered staged as they were based on the false pretext set up by Rajput groups that the film includes a dream sequence in which Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji are seen in intimate contact.