The Seductive Villainy of Ranveer Singh

Bollywood

The Seductive Villainy of Ranveer Singh

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

“K

itne achhe ho tum. Kitne achhe hai tumhare usool,” Ranveer Singh, as Alauddin Khilji, tells Maharaja Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor) when the former attempts to school him in the language of the Rajputana, that prevents him from attacking Khilji in Padmaavat. To Khilji, the Rajput values seem utterly stupid – and it’s almost as if he’s reading the audience’s mind – and Ranveer’s mocking tone drives home that sentiment in a way that cements the stage for one of Bollywood’s most electrifying villains.

On the surface, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Alauddin Khilji, the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, is an out-and-out psychopath; a manic-obsessive ruler fond of “naayab” possessions. The film paints him as a one-note barbaric ruler who wages a deadly and almost costly war blinded by his lust for a woman he has never seen, forgetting to acknowledge his lofty expansionist desires as probable cause. Besides the obvious bastardisation of his appearance, Bhansali’s unabashed “good Hindus, bad Muslims” narrative makes it obvious that Khilji is worthy of no sympathy or curiosity.

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