Friday, December 25, 2015

Bajirao Mastani - Movie Review

Peshwa Bajirao (1700-1740) wins many wars for the Marathas as their general under the emperor Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj . In fact he is undefeated in battle - after forty nine wars. His aim is to dethrone the Mughals from Delhi. But while on a battle to help the Bundelkhand king Raja Chatrasaal, he falls for the princess of Bundelkhand, who is half Muslim. Or perhaps its the other way around - that she fell for him. Or perhaps they both fell in love at the same time. His love for the half-Muslim is not acceptable to the Peshwas and he and his love are subjected to much resistance. Mastani is rejected, conspiracies are hatched to kill her, attacked, humiliated and imprisoned. The two however hold on to their love tenaciously - it's a love that dares all. In real life as well, Mastani is said to have died soon after Bajirao's death. The family's rejection of Mastani weakens and finally claims the most popular of Peshwa - at least according to the movie.

Ranveer Singh lives the role of Peshwa Bajirao with an ease that is disconcerting. It is almost every breath he is taking is that of the Peshwa, so convincing does he look on screen. He honours every promise he makes and looks the cheetah, the warrior, the speedy king. Priyanka Chopra as Kashibai, his first wife and the Peshwain, brings the complexities of her role with all the craftsmanship she has. Deepika looks the part of the regal Mastani, the warrior princess of Bundelkhand who has lost her heart to the Peshwa. Tanvi Azmi is delectable as Bajirao's mother. Milind Soman shows up as an elder in the court and Bajirao's adviser and confidant.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali weaves this tale well and shows it magnificently. The tale starts with a bang - Bajirao claiming the Peshwa's responsibility in a tense first scene. And it hardly loses steam from there despite the intrigues and conflicts being mostly internal. Rarely have I seen such perfection on the Indian screen as every visual looks authentic, vibrant and alive. If there is one grouse, it is that the love story could have been developed better to show how the Peshwa lost his heart so hopelessly to the young princess. Worth a watch. Team Bajirao Mastani can sleep easy. It's an effort that deserves praise.

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