21 thoughts on “Padmaavat (2018)

  1. Never saw it. Not going to watch it. I’m South Asian myself, and if I wanted to watch cartoonishly political propaganda dressed up in anachronistic costumes aiming more at being some designer’s next wedding collection than at being a serious re-creation of a specific time and place, I’d watch Lagaan instead. Equally misogynistic story; better music. The beloved Amar Chitra Katha comic books of my youth presented this story qua story, with simpler costumes drawn to easily identify character and status. That was better.

  2. Indian dress is very gorgeous to western eyes, not that our own medieval nobility didn’t dress pretty gorgeously too but your fabrics seem better.

  3. Wonderful, wonderful article! So evocative and thought provoking – I can’t wait to see, simply for the opulence of it all… even though many of the themes do sound problematic.

    1. As I understand it, in the epic the mass suicide is intended to rob Alauddin of the prize of his victory. I see the point but I admit to having problems with it. I mean Padmavati was the prize, surely her death would have been enought to achieve that?

  4. I hope you don’t mind a question that is not about the movie. I’m looking for a good “bird’s eye” overview of the history of art of India. I’m especially interested in costume and jewelry, which most general art historians don’t give much attention to. I can read English and German. Hope you can recommend some generally available books.

  5. Thanks for this post, this is the kind of stuff I find really interesting! (Both as a very pasty white American who likes to learn about other culture’s sartorial traditions, and as someone who works in theatrical costuming).
    Would there be any chance of doing a review of “Jodhaa Akbar”? The costumes in that movie were GORGEOUS and (at least to my Western eyes) seems to be a bit less problematic on the religious propaganda front (since the whole movie is about Muslim King and his Hindu Queen getting married for political reasons but learning to love and trust each other over the course of the film). I would be curious to know how historically accurate those costumes are!

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I learned a lot and really enjoyed it. I’d love to read more posts about costuming outside of Western/Eurocentric period pieces.

  7. So ..uh…this movie is Islamphobic? but the narrative clearly blames the start of this bloody war on a Brahmin Hindu Priest and shows the movie has good Muslim people too aka Mehrunissa?Or have the writer forgot she is Muslim too?

    Even the so called glorification of suicide from what I watched is played with tragic undertone since the people dying also involved are pregnant, children, clearly in despair and put up last token of resistance. Even the whole saffron v/s Green aesthetic looks a little laughable nitpick considering the movie’s lighting for Khilji faction is mostly Gold, Black and Amber not even dark green( can be seen in screenshots put up by the writer as well)
    I am thankful for details on historical accuracy and pointing the details and history but Not really impressed by the clear beef the guest writer has for ..idk..not portraying conquest and slavery as something amazing and how it is indeed verified by historians has religious fanaticism being one of the many driving reasons for it( mostly to funnel the Indian subcontinent’s riches etc)
    ( as it is its not even a now concept to peddle fictional and semi historical tales as “accurate” in historical fiction movies anyway. Its dumb but nearly every Historical fiction movie does it. Even Jodha Akbar despite everyone with a legit research degree saying Jodha probably never existed )

    1. Incidents of mass suicides to avoid capture and slavery occur in many cultures and is always winceable no matter how much you understand the motivation.

    2. I am not exactly sure how a mass suicide by citizens panicking under a brutal military attack amounts to “resistance” that the movie portrayed it as, nor do I get get how the siege of a Rajasthan fort by a Delhi Sultan was in any way related to funnelling of India’s resources(unless we are confusing Alauddin with Timur or Nadir Shah). And the “good Muslim” trope, well, that doesn’t really serve as a compliment to the movie.

      Ahistoricity of the narrative isn’t the problem- check Gulzar’s ode to Meerabai- it’s the communalising of an epic love poem from a skewed perception of history that’s irksome.

      1. So you NOW acknowledge the movie is showing some sort of panic and unsavory aspect of the mass suicide ? that was quite fast downgrade from saying it was “glorification”.
        Frankly from what I saw the movie’s black and white narrative skews more towards gender than towards religion. Where every woman is saintly and men are the worst since the control everything. Including the first wife which contrary to your claim is not ignored by the narrative at all. She prominently features as a person who while existing in society which accepts polygamy for men still cannot accept it in her heart and is not villainized for it( it would be odd if she was considering Bhansali’s own mother was left by her husband cruelly for another woman once)
        Frankly I would just say I am agreeing to disagreeing for I find the argument of the movie being particularly communal to be very weak. The details on history for the costumes were nice since I also found many elements to be too forward in centuries fashion wise. I guess we can chalk it as stylistic choice since Bhansali rarely works with parred down aesthetics.

    3. I enjoyed the review and the beautiful pictures for which I thank but found the article very preachy. I understand there’s extremely serious communal tensions in India right now (and not just right now) and that Hindu propaganda in art is a problem, but everything I read in English lately seems to have this exhausting virtue-signalling and one-sided “problematic this, problematic that” bent. Even, especially I would say, stuff about fashion and clothes!
      Out of curiosity, I checked out the review of “The Warrior Queen of Jhansi” on this very website, having remembered something about the British being in it, and in that case, the Brits all being villains and horrible people is “fine”, they deserve it!
      So which is it? Are all invaders evil, or not, depending on which group is fashionable to hate upon and which one isn’t? The Islamic invasions in India were extremely brutal.

      As for mass suicides, they are very common in history (from the Jews losing to the Romans to the Japanes to the Americans), of course we don’t like it now because we’re not being attacked with nowhere to go but instead of calling it problematic I’d be interested in an interpretation of different meanings given to suicide in different cultures and the fear of enslavement/rape motivating it.

  8. What do you mean by “having in his eyes the sadness of a Eastern European”???
    I am Eastern European, actually, and I don’t understand what that phrase is referring to. Would be curious to know, though.

    1. It was a reference to a common error(that the movie too commits with it’s costuming and architecture being all over the place) of confusing mediaeval Turks(perceived as Eastern European by many south asians), Khiljis, Mughals and colonial era Nawabs into one cohesive oriental entity spanning across time and geography, and further projecting the Nawabi stereotype of pensive love struck man on them all including the Turks. It’s like how most south asians would imagine Julius Caesar to speak in a posh British accent; a stereotype that exists as an extension by error of association.

      1. Oh wow 😄 thanks for the info. I would have never guessed that the Eastern European means Turk here 😀 Much of what is considered “Eastern Europe” are very far away from Turkey or what ever belonged to the Ottoman Empire (eg. Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, etc) 😀
        Considering that the stereotype, or “most typical”, Eastern European looks are usually blonde hair and blue eyes, and the stereotype Turk look is, well, the “opposite”, with dark hair, dark eyes, etc, this is very weird to me 😄

        1. Yes, it’s funny that Turks are seen as Eastern European as Turks are in many ways the ultimate “other” to us, and especially to Eastern Europeans themselves!
          It’s a bit different with Ukraine right now because they need to “other” Russia instead, but Turks are definitely not European to an European, rather they are stereotyped as exotic, menacing, Oriental etc.

          1. I mean, they can be “categorized” as South European or Mediterranean, as they have some in common in “looks” and in other things with Greece, Spain, etc. But Eastern European, I would never imagine that 😀

            1. Yes and no. The Spanish and Southern Italians have mixed with both Arabs and Germanic people, and it shows. They don’t look like Turks at all to me. Turks originally come from Central Asia, so neither Northern Europe nor the Mediterranean. Greeks look more like Turks due to the invasions and the Ottoman Empire.
              Now that we’re seeing a lot of Ukrainians in the news, I see how they are closer to the “Turkish” look than, say, the Belarusian (who look Slavic and Baltic to me). Maybe because of the Tatar and Greek communities?

      2. I thought it was just a joke about eastern European literature (particularly Russian literature) being notoriously depressing!

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