In a scene from Padmaavat you see the elements of narcissism from the ‘Agent of Chaos’ – the menacing Khilji, when his domestics angle the mirrors towards him luring him to love himself more than ever. The ‘Kiss of Death’ I say. Where else can you get such manifestation of villainy?
I remember the first time I saw Gabbar Singh in Sholay on T.V. In retrospective, I consider him the purest form of villain. He was filthy. He had no remorse. He was cold blooded. His smile & laughter: infectious. He didn’t have gadgets or a cape to be a super villain. No. Gabbar Singh had an edgy charisma over Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) &Veeru (Dharmendra) that empowered him. He loved chaos just like Khilji. But Khilji took it one step further.
Ranveer Singh’s Alauddin Khilji is like a kaleidoscope. Metaphorically speaking, Khilji’s thoughts shifts and varies depending on the strength of his character, the intention & ability to elevate his thoughts at will, thanks to his subconscious mind. As a kaleidoscope operates on the principle of multiple reflections, so does his mind and eyes.
Ranveer Singh took a chapter from history and made it his own. The adjective nearly everyone will say when you ask them to describe Ranveer Singh is CRAZY because sanity is more sinister to him. Singh’s Khilji is 100% aware of his actions and that he dresses, talks, acts and thinks the way he does by choice. He prefers to behave this way to the way the rest of us are. He chooses to disregard life as valuable. He wants to be the villain and loves it. He is a man with nothing to lose and nothing to fear. Because we as readers can’t possibly relate to such extreme behavior we label it as craziness, mistaking it for what it really is: PURE EVIL.
How dark would such an individual be? How endless is that abyss? Sanjay Leela Bhansali set himself a monumental task – How to reinvent a villain for the modern cinema-goer? Well, the vintage just got a bit modern. Alauddin Khilji is a great character and great characters are more complex than the sum of their parts, thanks to his many layers including his mysterious origins, his weird motivations, and his adaptability to cause mayhem in any situation.
Now you may google all about Alauddin Khilji and see Padmaavat but Ranveer Singh’s adaptation of the dreadful scoundrel makes you forget every word ever written in history about him. Minutes into Padmaavat the comparison to the real man and all other versions slip away and we are drawn into the inner life of the most ruthless character ever seen on celluloid.
The director had his vision of Khilji on camera. The screenwriter had his on paper but Ranveer Singh’s vision was totally twisted & wicked. He, for all you know, must have created an all-new Khilji in his mind. Nobody could relate to this extreme mind-set. Khilji wants us to dismiss him as crazy as, in a way, crazy is predictable, giving him the advantage to do the unexpected. But after watching Padmaavat I feel Khilji and Ranveer, both have gone beyond crazy. They’ve become something else, something unique.
Ranveer Singh’s audacity and integrity in letting us see the depth of one man’s shattering angst of not seeing the precious face of Padmaavati is testament of his enormous talent, and I can tell you that three hours is not enough time to spend in the company of the magnificent Alauddin Khilji.
Alauddin Khilji’s behavior doesn’t make him great but that ambiguity is part of what makes him the greatest villain & the most dangerous character Hindi cinema has ever seen since Gabbar Singh.