I remember a few weeks ago I was discussing this film’s promotional activities with a friend. He said, ‘Have you noticed how Sanjay Leela Bhansali isn’t present at any of these events?’
I figured that, because he’s someone who works behind the scenes as a director, he prefers being away from the limelight. But it was my friend who said ‘he’s probably working very hard. That’s why you never see him’.
That’s exactly what he was doing. This movie is testament to that. Every scene, every dialogue, every minute detail: it’s as close to perfection as it gets. The best way I can describe this film is that it’s 2.5 hours of moving poetry. A ‘Mughal-E-Azam’ meets ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ sort of film.
Ranveer Singh as ‘Bajirao’ easily stole the show in one of his best performances to date. Playing a character of this magnitude, with such great historical significance, could not have been an easy task. He so convincingly played the role that you would think Singh himself is the last living hereditary peshwa of the Maratha Empire. And that, is no exaggeration.
Deepika as ‘Mastani’ will steal your heart. As a woman, she will make you detest her for the sheer fact that she pursued the spouse of another. As a child, she will make you love her for the selfless mother she portrayed. As a man, she will entice you with her beauty, wit and overwhelming presence when she enters the frame. Even as a strong warrior princess, Deepika will mesmerize you.
Priyanka as ‘Kashibai’ will break you, in every way possible. Hers was the story that was untold. The story of a loving wife left behind. A woman who loved so deeply, you could actually see the pain in her eyes, when it wasn’t reciprocated. Priyanka was just brilliant. She could have easily played this role even without her dialogues. Her expressions were more than enough.
All three leads did complete justice to their respective roles. SLB, hats off to you for your impeccable casting. Everyone from Milind Soman to Tanvi Azmi (Bajirao’s mother) acted exceptionally. After watching this film, I can’t think of even one character who could have been replaced.
The only thing I would say was lacking a bit, this time around, was the chemistry between Ranveer & Deepika. Yes, it was very much there. But nothing like their chemistry in Ram-Leela. However, they made up for that with their stellar performances.
The music was heavenly. Brings you back to the good ol’ days of ragas and meaningful lyrics. The best song wasn’t even released on YouTube. ‘Mohe Rang Do Laal’ will give you goosebumps. Watch it on the big screen and you will instantly become a fan of classical music/dance, if you aren’t already.
The songs proudly boast of beautiful verses, breathtaking choreography, grand sets, opulent costumes and dreamlike charm. Such is the magnificence which radiates from every song in this film from Albela Sajan to Deewani Mastani. Witnessing this on the big screen will make you tremendously proud of our rich cultural heritage. We have cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee to thank for that. You, along with SLB and editor Rajesh G. Pandey, have succeeded in making this film larger than life.
Last but not least, SLB. Thank you for finally making me okay with digesting tragedies. Thank you for being the incredible storyteller that you are. The magic of this film masked the immense pain surrounding this story. It was nothing short of an experience. One that will always stay with me. Your Bajirao, Mastani & Kashi are now also, very much, a part of me.
By: Jessica Thomas