The year was 2017 and amidst everything that was happening in the entertainment world, there was a lot of chatter regarding Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s upcoming film, Padmaavati. The film was going to star Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in the lead roles and fans couldn’t contain their excitement to witness this magnum opus, thanks to all the chatter it had created ever since it’s the announcement.
Cut to October 2017, the film’s trailer releases. I remember watching it on loop 10 times to just let it all soak in. I think my mind was blown away with what it had witnessed. Add to that the brilliant background score and visuals which made it look so good. And while all of that looked every bit spectacular, the cherry on top of this cake definitely was Deepika. The way she portrayed the Rajput Queen in just the glimpses was noteworthy. Her expressions, her poise and her single dialogue in the trailer assured me that this one is going to be big.
Three months passed by and the film dealt with a lot. From innumerable controversies to the title being changed to Padmaavat, the entire cast and crew passed through Agni pariksha to release the film on the celluloid. After all, they were showcasing the story of a Rajput Queen and it wasn’t going to be easy. In January 2018, when the film finally released on the 70mm, it not only blew the minds of the audience but also became one of the highest grossers of the year. The songs became an instant hit and everyone started talking about the performances in the film.
Deepika who essayed the titular role played the character with finesse. Every frame looked like a piece of art and Deepika managed to shine in each of them. Right from the first frame to the last, the actress managed to carry the film on her shoulder leaving the viewers craving for more. The substance the actress added to the character of the Rajput Queen made the film one of her best performances of her filmography.
We are in 2021 now and even though it has been three years for the film, it just feels like yesterday when the entire country witnessed the release of this film. Today when I sit back and write this, a few things that I clearly remember is the battle Deepika had to deal with. When I interview actors, they always talk about the hardships actors go through when they play such characters onscreen. But when I watched Padmaavat, I realised that this wasn’t just another film for Deepika and there was a lot more than just hard work, blood and sweat that the actress had put in to immortalise the Rajput Queen for the audience. And just when the actress thought that her job was done essaying the role, she had to deal with the controversies that knocked on her door for three months. And just like the Rajput Queen, Deepika too dealt with all of it with a lot of grace and poise. Surely she would be going through a turmoil of emotions internally but on the outside, she was calm, just like the sea.
Sometimes I really think that how can somebody be so calm and composed when the world is throwing so much at the individual. And while I thought about this for three months, the film answered it all for me. The film and Deepika’s life for those 3 months had so many similarities. It almost looked it, the Rajput Queen knew that the role needed just more than an actor to play her on the celluloid. Somewhere in those 3 months, the nation witnessed their modern tale of Padmaavat where Deepika stood in the centre just like the Rajput Queen. Did she emerge victories? That’s for all of us to decide. But one thing she surely did is, that she gave her identity up completely to mould into the persona of Rani Padmavati.
As the film celebrates three years today, I ask myself, would any other actress play the character of Rani Padmavati better? And while my mind answers that instantly, I will let you take your pick. Here’s wishing Deepika and everybody else who were a part of this magnum opus, a Happy 3 years.