Padmavat is a story based on the poem written by Alaol in the 17th century. The 2018 released movie has won many awards for its set design among various other awards. The set has been designed by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray. While most periodicals today have the liberty to use CGI and VFX for the sets. The scenes from Padmavat were recreated in an area in Kolhapur. The sets have been known to be one of the largest sets in Indian Cinema.

The story takes place primarily in three spaces, the palace of Allahudin Khilji played by Ranveer Singh, the Chittor Palace, and the grounds where the battle takes place but the story shows so much detailing in each space that it is worth the experience. The spaces analyzed in this article are concerning the sequence of events in the movie.

The scene opens with a scene in Afghanistan where we see the Khilji Palace at the start of their reign. We see the use of mud in the set design for the palace. We also see the use of what looks like cooling towers in the sets of the palace. This gives us the context of the duration of the following events and how the Khilji dynasty rises in and conquers the Sultanate. 

Then the scene opens with a lush green landscape showing Singhal, where we see Padmavati hunting a deer. The landscape is extremely articulated to the movement of the scenes and this can be seen when we see the movement of the guards as shown in the image below. 

The play of light also gives a sense of divinity to the scene and makes it more visually appealing. The scene then moves to a rock-cut temple which looks inspired by the Ajanta and Ellora caves in Aurangabad. The temple in the movie shows the carvings of Buddha and shows the stupa which is found in Buddhist caves. The scene gives a sense of the possible past which is what good period films do to the viewer. The use of light is very limited in the scene as is possible in the caves. The lights only give us enough information to identify the space like a cave and show us the columns in the cave. 

Throughout history, we know that Allahudin Khilji was the ruler of Delhi and a major part of the Indian territory during his reign. The story shows Allahudin Khilji in dark places, with very little light. The colors used are dull and hence naturally bring Allahudin Khilji as a ‘villain’ of the story visually. The palaces, however, have details of the tea. The Khilji palace shows the palace differently from the palace of Chittor. As the Khilji dynasty practiced Islam we see the use of Urdu on the walls along with various. The Khilji can be seen to have a lot of influence from Persian Architecture in terms of the frescos and carvings. The sets of the Khilji Palace show very little light as it was known to be that Allahudin Khilji was one of the cruelest emperors. The use of black, dark green exemplifies the effect of one’s negative emotion on the character. 

The scenes at the Khilji palace show large courtyards as shown above which tell us exactly what we see in monuments of this time and the influence of Persian architecture. 

The Chittor Palace shown in the movie is an accurate depiction of the Rajasthani architecture. The beautiful windows that project out of the haveli. We even see the use of stone with the details on the entrance gate showing stone bricks. The fort style architecture also shows exactly what we see in Rajasthan today. The palace is shown in all its grandeur and is often well lit. The elements that are reflected in the sets of the Chittor Palace are very different from those shown in Khilji’s Palace. Although both the Palaces show the courtyard, the nature of the courtyard is different in both cases. The elements that are shown in the palace show the lack of water bodies and they show smaller water bodies. 

We have all seen that Sanjay Leela Bansali, the director of this movie, works with massive sets and set designs. The fact that this movie has surpassed a very important level of detailing is commendable. The stark differences in the two primary sets of Khilji’s Palace and the Chittor Palace make it easy for viewers to navigate between the two as cinema captures a 2-D version of a 3-D world. The fact that the movie gives the views a sense of the royalty and grandeur is what most period films aim for and that has been done to perfection in this movie.The fact that the movie Padmavat has seen such a transition in terms of the set design and the layered transition between sets is amazing. The craftsmanship of the people who created the sets is also noticed vividly by the people viewing it. The idea of having such interesting sets for a movie of so much historical value is amazing. 

An architectural review of Padmavat - Sheet1
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Sreenidhi Iyer
Author

Sreenidhi is a young architect learning to combine the knowledge of architecture with writing. She is a pass out from Institute of Architecture and Planning, Nirma University and has varied interests in the field of Architecture. Her primary interests revolve around sustainable design techniques and the relationship between cinema and architecture.

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