The magnum opus by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is finally here. Some might say the wait has been more than a decade, but after numerous twists of fate and upheavals, finally SLB presents us with his Bajirao Mastani….
Needless to say, by default now, Bhansali’s movies are all poetry in motion. It has been ever since Hum Dil… right up to his last Ram Leela. Bajirao is no different. So let’s accept the fact that Bhansali, the production team of Sriram Kannan Iyengar, Sujeet Subhash Sawant, Saloni Ankush Dhatrak and the DoP, Sudeep Chatterjee have left no stone unturned to present you a visually brilliant Christmas treat.
But the film is not only about the grand sets, the stylized costumes, and the colorful visuals. The film is an intense love story, I reiterate, INTENSE, so although certified ‘U’, I would definitely not recommend the film for kids below 10. Not because there is too much of blood and gore or there are sexually explicit scenes, no way. In these 2 aspects, Bhansali has presented a very ‘clean’ film. It is the sheer seriousness of the subject with its no holds barred approach that hits you at the jugular at the very onset.
So the film begins with the ruling Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj mourning the death of his Peshwa and contemplating his successor. The difference in 2 camps leads to a young Bajirao being presented to the court, as a claimant to the title, held previously by his father. Within the first 5 minutes you know everyone in the room, be it Mahesh Manjrekar, Aditya Panscholi, Milind Soman, Ranveer Singh or Bhansali, mean business.
Such is the intensity of the subject, that none of the protagonists have been given ‘entries’ , which would have been a given for a film of this scale. The film rides on the simplicity of the plot, based on the book ‘Rao’ by an acclaimed Marathi author.
The film works purely on the enigmatic performances and superb direction. So whilst Tanvi Azmi oozes fear from her eyes as the dominating mother, Vaibhav Tatwawdi as the administrative brother stands up well to Bajirao’s tantrums.
On a running time of 158 minutes, the film doesn’t seem too stretched, thanks to the efficient editing by Rajesh Pandey. Music by Bhansali again, adds to the colour of the film, especially the Deewani Mastani, Albela Sajan, Pinga and the Ranveer song.
Mahesh Manjrekar, Aditya, Milind, do justice to their roles and Milind stands out for his.
Priyanka Chopra, gives you the impression in the first half that she is there only to lend eye candy support to the leading pair. But in the second half, she shines like a diamond in the rough. Her eyes convey so much, pain, anger and frustration, for being the person who loses out on everything, for no fault of hers. As the loving Kashibai, her confrontation scenes with Deepika, Ranveer and Tanvi are all enough to make you want to root for her.
Deepika Padukone, with those effervescent eyes, after Piku and Tamasha, once again proves that this is her golden period. And she is milking it dry. After a strong entry, her turn to the doting, helpless lover, resigned to her fate makes you want to reach out to her and shake her up, comfort her. Such brilliance in terms of performance, which predominantly comes across through her eyes.
The film, somehow belongs to Ranveer. Unlike Deepika’s earlier film, where she stole the show right from her hero’s feet in Corsica, here she is an equal to Ranveer and Ranveer shows via his raw energy, animal passion that in the current lot of stars, it is HE who will succeed in the long run, because not only is he proving his versatility, but is also carefully choosing his projects with sensible directors. He had earlier in Dil Dhadakne Do, also shown his mettle in underplaying his character. Here, he takes his unbridled energy and lets it lose with such restraint, in that perfectly nuanced Marathi accent. Undoubtedly his best performance till date.
Hats off to Bhansali. He delivers his most ambitious project to us on a platter. He hasn’t lost focus on the plot of the love story, in trying to showcase long CGI infused battle scenes. His canvas is the human face and he uses that brilliantly on his lead trio.
As I mentioned, this is definitely not your pop corn entertainment, but yes, the film is definitely worth watching, purely due to Bhansali’s passion, that is supported by Priyanka and lead ably by Deepika and Ranveer.
Rating: 4 /5
By: Yusuf Poonawala