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Bajirao Mastani  : War & Passion
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Friday, December 18, 2015
Romantic drama
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s sense of aesthetics is a delight. Be assured that the spectacular visuals promised in the promos are fulfilled in every frame. Purists may frown at how extensively he has used cinematic license to tell his own version of a Peshwa warrior. But Bajirao Mastani is a relentlessly stunning experience.

 

It starts off with the right amount of intensity. Young Bajirao lays his claim to be the new Peshwa by exhibiting his expertise in both shastra and shaastra. Weaponry and wisdom make a great warrior.

 

Bajirao is an equally passionate husband to devoted wife Kashibai. And all’s well in the land of the Peshwas as ambitious Bajirao comes home victorious from battle after battle.

 

There’s grandeur in every nook of their Shaniwarwada palace. But an ominous note is struck with a grieving widow’s curse to Kashbibai that she will one day similarly pine for her husband.

 

The arrival of Mastani takes the revelry away from Shaniwarwada.

 

Prakash Kapadia’s screenplay brings out the warmth between Bajirao and his wife, his mother, his brother and everybody else around. It also gives a dramatic entry to Mastani, the warrior daughter of Raja Chhatrasal of Bundelkhand and one of his Muslim wives. Cupid strikes on the battle field. And it signals the erosion of relationships at Shaniwarwada.

 

Kashibai’s plight is poignant while her mother-in-law’s open hostility towards Mastani is understandable. But that’s also where the story weakens. Because somewhere it’s not easy to sympathise with the love story of Bajirao and Mastani. Bhansali is also unable to keep it gripping as he concentrates on overdramatic sound effects and visual splendour with nothing more to tell. The end especially is a huge disappointment where passion gives way to pagalpan.

 

The resemblance to Mughal-e-Azam is striking. If a feather was used sensuously by K Asif, haldi is smeared by Bhansali for sensuality. Asif’s sheesh mahal is substituted with an aaina mahal where Mastani dances like Anarkali did. Many secular messages are also emitted like Mastani’s reference to colours making religious divides between people.

 

Priyanka Chopra gives dignity and sympathy to Kashibai. Tanvi Azmi is impressive as Bajirao’s unbending mother. The presentation of Ranveer Singh as Bajirao is more impressive than his performance which is a little inconsistent. Deepika Padukone handles the many shades of Mastani’s character with sincerity.    

 

Compositions like Gajanana by a full-throated Sukhvinder or Bhansali’s twist to the classical Albela sajan aayo re, Deepika’s Deewani mastani dance and the feisty Pinga are picturised lavishly.

 

Costumes by Anju Modi and Maxima Basu and cinematography by Sudeep Chatterjee add to the splendour.

 

For a film that’s rich in aesthetics but dips in intensity post-interval, Bajirao Mastani gets a 3.5* rating. 

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Journalist & Author
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