You go into a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film expecting grandeur, color, earth tones and stunning costumes. You know you will get stylish sets, perfectly positioned shots and the aerial helicopter shots that only he can carry off perfectly….
In each of his movies, the chemistry between the lead pair crackles, Salman & Aishwarya in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Aish & Hrithik in Guzaarish, Ranveer & Deepika in Ram Leela, Aish & SRK in Devdas simply sizzles.
The story is grand, you can see both money & passion for the craft in every frame…..BUT somehow, SLB managed to surpass even his high standards in Bajirao Mastaani!
From the 1st frame, the stunning sets impress, the costumes are ornate and rich, the period feel in the earth hues evident. The use of the desert in building drama, the hoof beats and clang of weaponry are done perfectly. The building of Peshwa’s reign is done both comprehensively but quickly.
But the movie is not about the warrior or the conquest or the march on Delhi….the movie is well and squarely a love triangle…..
And here SLB is in his home zone- The performances he has extracted from the 3 leads stars and a stellar supporting cast is just fantastic.
For people like me who saw Ranveer in BBB or even Ram Leela, to imagine that he can give a convincing portrayal of supremely self assured Brahmin warrior is just impossible. But from the 1st scene he is perfect, the energy and self belief he conveys as the Peshwa heir apparent is good but toward the 2nd half- the anguish of a infidelity, the irresistible pull of his mistress and in the end the demons he fights and loses are all done at an immensely high calibre. Like many others I am in awe!
Deepika as Mastani is perfect, displaying both the strength of warrior and the risk taking behaviour of an illegitimate child- her scenes with Bajirao’s mother and the head priest are some of the best in the movie.
But the true scene stealer is Priyanka- the innocent love for her husband, the inner realisation that he loves another, the dignity in her welcome of Mastani into her house, while making it clear that the welcome is not into her heart and finally her confrontation of her husband – done so poetically- she is n
o weak woman losing to another. In what may be the 2nd lead, Priyanka walks off with a superior performance.
Tanvi Azmi can hold her own against anyone, she does so here as well and others Milind Soman & Aditya Pancholi, both look perfect.
The dialogues are at times long winded and some of Bajirao’s reflect his arrogance – but some just slice you-
Priyanka’s statement – “I would have given you my life, but you took my pride”
And Bajirao ” Bajirao has loved Mastani, not trifled with her”
The screenplay is brisk, keeping the narrative going, the cinematography as always breathtaking….
What does ring a false note are some of the initial war scenes, the use of CGI is unnecessary and fake-
The music is soaring, but the Baji chant rings like the Govinda Govinda refrain of Sarkar and Sarkar Raj….
While the song picturization is a visual feast- the Pinga song was probably not needed- SLB gave into the temptation of replicating Dola Re….but the exchange between Kashi & Mastani was such a powerful moment, the song just diluted the whole thing.
SLB has given a fantastic love story, however it is likely that people who see it will assume this to be the true tale of a valiant warrior, which is surely a disservice. Bajirao Peshwa was an undefeated warrior, who took the Maratha kingdom all the way to Delhi, he was daring, risk taking and fearless, defeating much stronger armies- His personal bravery is legendary and he was victorious in all 41 battles that he led for the Maratha King.
That he was a high caste Brahmin just adds to the mystique of his life and the fact that he died before he completed his 40th year- One wonders how the course of history may have changed had he succeeded in annexing the Mughals and re-establishing the proud Maratha kingdom across India, as was his dream….
But the movie is a must see and in the big screen!