Sanjay Leela Bhansali- the one name that restores my faith in Indian Cinema, time after time, after time. After the super hit pairing of Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh in Ram-Leela, Mr Bhansali is back, back with this indescribably majestic epic, a love story- a movie, that I’m sure will haunt me at three am, some morning, keeping me up and making me wonder about its grandeur.
Though the film has been amidst a series of controversies these past few weeks, let me tell you this- the movie provides a Disclaimer straight and upfront about the cinematic liberties it has taken- which according to me is perfectly alright, because- and let us be honest- we haven’t signed up to watch a documentary about the life of this particular Peshwa warrior.
But, that’s not what this article is about, and if people who’ve been so offended by the ‘distortion of facts in the movie’, just for one tiny little moment- three hours, ten minutes(including the interval)to be exact- tone their butthurt-mode down, and consider the film as they would any other film, they might just realize, that this is probably one of the best movies in all of Indian Cinema, EVER.
So, without wasting any more time of yours, my precious reader, here are 9 reasons you can’t , don’t want to, and shouldn’t miss Bajirao Mastani:-
With the brilliant wide angle shots of The Aaina Mahal-where Deewani Mastani looks nothing short of jaw dropping , every war theatre in the course of the film, and of course even the most intimate scenes- shown with distinctive class and no vulgarity- the visuals in this movie wont fail you. Instead, they’ll transport you straight into the film, where you stand a silent spectator, marveling at…well, everything. Even the graphics, at the opening credits are done with masterful artistry. The sets and the costumes have their own identity in the film, and are equally important as the three main characters- because they add tremendous value to the story being told. Take a bow, Sujeet Sawant, Sriram Iyengar, and Saloni- the production design team of the film- take a bow!
With director Sanjay Leela Bhansali at the helm, the music of the film is nothing short of magical. With upbeat songs like ‘Pinga’ and ‘Malhari’, the crowds go wild and there is an instant thunder of applause, that continues through the songs- and the energy is infectious! With slower tracks like ‘Aayat’, ‘Mohe rang do laal’, the slightly bold ‘Deewani Mastani’, the celebratory ‘Albela Sajan Aayo Ri’- I like this version better than the older one- and the heavy percussion juggernaut ‘Gajanana’- providing just the right effect for a brilliantly done fight scene by Deepika Padukone-the music here, has the ability to make you tap your feet, as well as give you goosebumps. It’s fantastic!
Screenplay and Dialogue
Heavily inspired by N.S Inamdar’s novel ‘Rau’, the screenplay of the movie seems a little slow at first, but eventually you understand that each scene has its own relevance and that the design of the story is such, that it leads to a conclusive arrangement, to provide the cine goer with maximum satisfaction-no, seriously, I was a puddle of tears by the end of it. The dialogue is crisp, each word hitting just the right note- some cheeky, and witty, that make you smile wryly, and some hard, bitter blows- like Kashibai’s sultry accusation, “ Aap hume humari zindagi maang lete, hum khushi khushi, de dete, lekin aapne toh humse hamara guroor cheen liya…”. Or, Mastani’s pacifist remark to Kashibai, “Rau hume hamesha kehte hai, agar Mastani humari prerna hai, toh Kashi humari takat.”
These scenes –and several others as these- make you feel for each character, and you cannot help but take an instant liking to them. The power of words- the impact a solid storyline can have on a film- can allow some wiggle room for a slight error, here and there.
The supporting characters.
Be it Raja Chatrasaal of Bundelkhand- Mastani’s father- or Bajirao’s mother-played by the supremely talented Tanvi Azmi, each actor in the supporting cast has played their part well. A special mention goes to Nagpur boy, Vaibhav Tatawawdi, who’s done an outstanding job as the standoffish younger brother of Bajirao- Chimmaji Appa. Their scenes, though limited, remind us all that no role is big or small, and that every brilliant film is made of fragments of brilliancy- every single detail of it.
Kashibai- the magnificent Priyanka Chopra.
Though the movie is called Bajirao-Mastani, be mistaken not that Priyanka Chopra– portraying the first wife of the Peshwa- has any less role in making the movie, as fabulous as it is. From being a good wife to the Peshwa- Peshwin Bai as she’s called- Kashibai transitions into a helpless, defeated woman who watches her husband and his second wife- fall in love, as she hides her hurt and pain, under the umbrella of her pride. She holds her head high, and marches with dignity, performing every duty expected of her. She’s witty and never direct in her taunts- but they always get her the desired results. In her remarks to both Bajirao and Mastani, letting them know of her disappointment, her heartbreak- never once with classless insult-Kashibai’s love for her husband never goes away. We feel her frustrations, her jilted disposition, until it moves in us like blood. Priyanka Chopra acts with such conviction, that not for one single moment will you think that she is a mere shadow, in the this Ranveer- Deepika story.
Mastani -the daydream, the swan, the diamond that you never want to take your eyes off- Deepika Padukone.
It’s the way she grips viewers- her beauty, her grace and her soulfulness, that make Mastani an unforgettable character. She starts off as a princess- a warrior- whose father’s kingdom is in turmoil – danger of being wiped out any second. Her ferocity and her excellent swordsmanship, immediately define her as a badass female, who manages to save the life of Bajirao, in battle. As the film progresses, we see her being a hopeless victim to the disease that is love- mad, mad love, and the passion with which she pursues it. She accepts every injustice that comes her way, with poise and perseverance. She quips words about and of love- her love for Bajirao- so wise, so dignified, that never once, do you see her as a home wrecker. She emotes the feeling of being in love with tremendous purity, and yet never insults or demeans the value of Kashibai in Bajirao’s life. She never yearns for respect, and extends a sense of deep gratitude about everything that’s been given to her- even during her dying moments. Deepika Padukone- the epitome of grace, as far as I’m concerned- delivers a performance so majestic, so surreal, that no amount of praise is worthy enough to suffice it.
If you thought that their chemistry in Ram- Leela was everything, you need to watch Bajirao Mastani to understand the full extent of magic Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone can create. Sure, the scenes here aren’t as raunchy as that of Ram Leela, but the best part? They work doubly as well. Their chemistry this time around is ethereal- and comes from a place hidden deep in their souls, as if waiting for just the right moment to shine. They convince us, as viewers, to vouch for them. The finesse of Ranveer Singh combined with the talent of Deepika Padukone, make for a couple that seems both-beautiful and pure.
Don’t, however, underestimate the impact Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh bring to the screen. She is fabulous- even as a period film lead- as always, and he seems to bring a lighter, happier energy and a deep rooted sense of comfort, to every scene they’ve been a part of- it works excellently, as it balances out the intensity of the other storyline. But, the intense scenes that the both share towards the end of the film, are nothing short of marvelous- the acting prowess of both, shining through and through.
The fierce, flawed and the phenomenal Bajirao- Ranveer Singh.
Right from the first time we’re introduced to him, Bajirao radiates dynamite personality. He’s smart and witty, intelligent and mighty, beautiful and beckoning, a successful leader and a brilliant strategist who hasn’t lost a single battle. His love for his kingdom surpasses his love for Mastani and Kashi, even. He’s a lover and a warrior-whose eyes speak much more than his words ever will. His vulnerability and sensitiveness is molded into a crude exterior, an impish disposition- which is deeply endearing.
And that’s about all, I want to say about Bajirao, because I don’t have the words to coherently describe the magnitude of brilliance, this character has managed to exude- I don’t. So, I’ll leave it to the critics and the renowned film entities.
What I shall write about, however, is Ranveer Singh.
Going into the film, I loved Ranveer Singh- adored him, even. But, having watched it, I came out of the theater feeling an odd sense of pride. Pride-about the fact that I had chosen to support the right kind of movie, the right kind of story, and certainly, the right kind of actor. Because, I know for a fact that NO ONE in the industry, would have been ballsy enough to take up a challenge like this- and had they taken it up, even, none of them could’ve managed to do what Ranveer Singh did for this film. With each project, Ranveer Singh keeps one-upping himself, and I feel tremendous respect for him. If, Lootera is his first prize in school, Bajirao Mastani is his valedictory speech at graduation! Delivering his career best- take a bow, Ranveer Singh!
SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI.
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