Pick up any of his recent films, say Ram Leela, Guzaarish, Saawariya, and you'll notice that all of them suffered from a misplaced sense of self-adulation and vanity that took away much of the sheen from all the grandeur at display. Even his penultimate film Bajirao Mastani, which I agree was marginally better than the ones I mentioned so far, could not completely absolve him of succumbing to "style over substance", a crime plenty of Indian filmmakers are frequent accused of committing.
This does not go to say that Padmaavat possesses a flavor or aura anything markedly different from his previous films, but amidst all the lavish set pieces and ostentatious costumes, the story-telling remains sure-footed. He stages impressive war sequences, the dialogues pack a punch and the script throws in enough twists to keep you engaged for most part of the film. It is only the last 30 minutes or so where things take a predictable turn and the already thin plot is stretched to the point of turning the film into a slog.
Shahid Kapoor and Deepika Padukone's sincere and commendable renditions are likely to go largely unnoticed with Ranveer Singh practically stealing every scene he is in. In his third successive film with Ranveer, Bhansali skillfully directs all of Ranveer's innate eccentricity to create a character that is deliciously menacing & repugnant and the actor sinks his teeth completely into the role to deliver a performance that is riveting, to say the least.
I'm going with 3.5/5 for Padmaavat. It's hard to comprehend the drama surrounding the release of the film, which incidentally seems more than the drama in the entire film itself, but be prepared to get Ranveer's Khilji ingrained in your memory.