Bajirao Mastani Movie Review
Bajirao Mastan movie ,Duniya ka har dharm mohabbat sikhata hai, Mohabbat ka koi dharm nahi hota. Mohabbat khud hi dharm hai” (All religions teach love, love has no religion and it is a religion in itself) – that is what Sanjay Leela Bhansali aims to preach with Bajirao Mastani that hits theatres on Friday.
Bajirao Mastani explores the romantic side of 18th-century Maratha general Bajirao Ballal Bhat, who fought and won 40 battles against the Mughals with an aim to create a unified Hindu kingdom or Akhand Bharatvarsha (united Bharat).
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra and Tanvi Azmi
With Mastani’s scarcely recorded history, Bhansali had a beautiful premise of a love story that has never been explored onscreen. However, he makes it a tiring affair: Laden with the burden of self-indulgence and dramatic “dialoguebaazi”, the film drags on at its own sweet and laid-back pace.
These are but minor aberrations in a sweeping love story that is mounted on such a grandiose scale and crafted with such vaulting zeal that eventually the smaller details cease to matter. Bajirao Mastani is, in many respects, Bhansali’s most subversive film to date. Its central message is that all religions preach love but love has no religion.
Love, the film conveys via Irrfan Khan’s voice, is a religion by itself and those that swear by its tenets become immortal like Bajirao and Mastani. Peshwa Bajirao, played with flair by Ranveer Singh, takes on the unbending clergy and his own angry family to uphold Mastani’s dignity after she arrives in Pune as his second wife.
To liven up this “love story of a warrior”, Bhansali, as is his wont, rustles up a series of spectacular visuals, each as blindingly awash in red, russet and gold and bathed in light and shade as all the others. Some of the pivotal scenes are well conceived and executed and their impact is enhanced by the impressive performances from the principal cast.
While it is difficult to take one’s eyes off the screen, the pace of the narrative, which runs for more than two and a half hours, is not consistent. Large parts of the first half of Bajirao Mastani appear to serve only one purpose: setting the stage for a more explosive second half.
But the wait is well worth it: the pace of the film quickens considerably after the two women in Bajirao’s life come face to face. The headstrong warrior’s wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra), mother Radhabai (Tanvi Azmi), brother Chimaji (Vaibhav Tatwawdi) and son Nana Saheb (Ayush Tandon), each in his own way, seek to prevent Mastani from worming her way into the Peshwa fold and the family’s abode – Shaniwarwadi.
Mastani (Deepika Padukone) is shunned, humiliated and even brutalized as she refuses to give up her claim on the man she loves.She equates ishq (love) with ibaadat (worship), and notwithstanding the religious and social resistance from those around Bajirao she stands firm and bears him a son.
Right at the outset – obviously under mounting pressure from the descendants of Bajirao Peshwa and from some historical purists – the film offers what must surely go down in the annals of Bollywood as the longest-ever disclaimer.
Bajirao Mastani Movie Review
Among other things, the director admits in the introductory rider that he has taken liberties with facts. He need not have bothered. At no point does Bajirao Mastani look any different from all the fictional tales that Bhansali has spun in his eventful career.
Bajirao Mastani is watchable primarily because of the craft that is on view in the pretty frames lit meticulously by cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee.The characters allude repeatedly to the sky, to the sun and the moon, to the clouds and to the elements in general in the stodgy first half.
However, except in the competently mounted CGI-aided battles scenes, the sky is rarely seen.
The film instead shows the audience the Valhalla-like grandeur of the sets, the striking costumes designed by Anju Modi and faces lit by fire-torches.
The second half looks and feels markedly different because the visuals open out to take in the sky and the rain and the wind to convey the larger war that Bajirao must fight against his co-religionists. Bhansali gives us a trio of remarkable women in Bajirao Mastani. Besides the admirable Mastani, a magnificent warrior-princess and a courageous lover, the film has Bajirao’s aggrieved but dignified wife Kashibai and his widowed mother.
Deepika is absolutely outstanding as Mastani, a woman in a man’s world, a Muslim in a conservative Chitpavan Brahmin setting, and a mother driven by the power of love.Priyanka has less in terms of footage and hangs around in the backdrop for the most part. But when the drama gets into its stride, she too comes into her own.
Tanvi Azmi as Radhabai, a tonsured lady in white calling the shots and constantly testing the patience of her strong-willed first-born, delivers a power-packed performance.
Credit must be given to Anju Modi, Deepika’s designer, who adds to Mastani’s elegant and beautiful persona with her well-crafted dresses. The sets, quite predictably, are a sight to behold and add to the grandeur on display.
Though the story ends on a sad note and the ending is a bit too stretched, the entire sequence is one of few high points of Bajirao Mastani. Ranveer’s character is hallucinating under high fever and sees forces charging at him in a calm Narmada river. He rages his own battle, swinging his sword like a maniac. When Priyanka asks him about his opponent, he says: “Bhagwan … kismet”. This signifies his lost battle with his own family and custodians of religion. From Ranveer’s loss to Priyanka watching him go crazy, you can feel everyone’s pain, angst and grief.
If you appreciate Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s opulence and grandeur, this won’t disappoint. It can be a good one-time watch, for Deepika’s performance, if not anything else.