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Bollywood Film review: Bajirao Mastani

By Hiten J. Trivedi 

Bajirao Mastani – An extravagant, spectacular period drama!

Star cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Tanvi Azmi, Milind Soman

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

 Rating: ***1/2

 I thought we, as the audience, would either have to wait for Ashutosh Gowariker to make another magnificent period drama like Jodhaa Akbar or for K. Asif to reborn and make another spectacle like Mughal-e-Azam. But thankfully, the wait is over because we now have Bajirao Mastani that matches to its predecessors at almost all levels.

 1436855751bajirao-mastani-stillI don’t need to delve too much into the story because we all know the film is about the eternal romance between Peshwa Bajirao, the legendary Maratha warrior and his second wife, Mastani. So there is pretty much nothing left for me to write about the story. But what needs to be applauded with a standing ovation though is the way the story has been narrated and executed.

 Neither of us have seen or witnessed the era this film belongs to and hence there is little scope for us to decide how much of what has been narrated is true and marinated in facts. And anyways, the filmmakers have made it loud and clear in their disclaimer that this is a work of fiction inspired by a book on the history of Peshwas titled ‘Rao’. It is not an easy task even for a veteran filmmaker to do justice to a period drama because you have to make your audience travel back to the era the film belongs to. Sanjay Leela Bhansali achieves this feat marvelously!! The gorgeous romance between Bajirao and Mastani, the discomforting love between him and his first wife Kashi Bai, the conflicts between Peshwa and his men, the betrayal by Bajirao’s mother – all these have been narrated in a fantabulous way!

 The breathtaking visuals, the unbelievable detailing, the impeccable scale and canvas, and the spectacular grandeur of the film are to be seen to be believed. Yes, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for roping in all these elements in his earlier films too, but this time, the magician filmmaker takes his vision to another level. The sets of the film look so real that they make you forget for those two-and-a-half hours that you belong to 2015. Right from the first scene itself that marks the entry of Bajirao and is crowned as the new Peshwa after he slits a peacock feather into half with a master stroke of his arrow, you are taken back to the era and you would be compelled to feel that you belong to the Peshwas.

 deepika bajiraoThe song and dance sequences, especially the Kathak dance and Deewani Mastani are absolutely magical so much so that you would want them to just go on and on… The scale at which the war sequences have been shot is phenomenal and the visuals are intimidating to say the least. The costumes, the ornaments, the weapons, the war fields are magnificent. Hats off to the detailing that has gone into each and every frame of this film, which is nothing but a painting in motion. The sets are so breathtakingly gorgeous that you wouldn’t mind giving your left arm or even kill to be there.

 Talking about performances, Priyanka Chopra as the vulnerable, strong-willed, large-hearted, compromising, loving and caring wife Kashi Bai is simply brilliant! She is the best part of the film. You would want to believe that Kashi Bai must have looked and been exactly like Priyanka. The way PeeCee has portrayed the pain, the loneliness, the calmness and the resilience of Kashi Bai is just fantastic! She has nailed it and how! Deepika, as Ranveer said in his interview, looks like a dream and has done a very good job as Mastani who is head over heels in love with the Peshwa and didn’t mind living as and being called his keep and going through the trials and tribulations despite being a princess of Bundelkhand herself.

 Ranveer Singh as Peshwa Bajirao is very good, but… yes there is a ‘but’ when it comes to his performance. In his interview, Ranveer said he had to put on a lot of muscle mass and look strong and intimidating. Yes he does look strong and intimidating but not throughout the film. There are scenes when he completely transforms into Bajirao and makes you forget that you are watching Ranveer Singh. But there are scenes where he loses the touch. Sadly, he is not consistent. While in some scenes, he walks and talks and lives like a Peshwa and a great Maratha warrior; in some scenes, his body language, his walk and mannerisms are as casual as Ricky Bahl. Honestly, he looked stronger and more intimidating and even had a way better and beefed-up physique in Ram-Leela. Unfortunately, the nuances of the real Ranveer Singh do crop up at times. No, don’t get me wrong; I am not saying he is bad. I already said he is very good, but the inconsistency in his performance would make you feel as if Bhansali gave him complete freedom to perform each and every scene the way he wanted.

 Priyanka bajirao mastaniApart from Ranveer, the second major problem I have (and I am sure most of the viewers would have) is with the climax and its execution. It’s just way too melodramatic and unbelievable. How can such a strong-headed, extremely smart and sharp-minded Bajirao lose his sanity before giving up his life for Mastani is beyond me. Where there is unconditional love, there are bound to be conflicts and betrayals and Tanvi Azmi, as Bajirao’s mother, fills those areas wonderfully with a fantastic performance. Milind Soman, being a Maharashtrian himself and with those chiseled features, looks every bit a Maratha and someone who belonged to that era. Mahesh Manjrekar as Chhatrapati Sahu Maharaj is good and so is Aditya Pancholi.

 There are two films releasing this weekend and they both belong to different spectrums altogether. I will talk about the other film in its review and tell you whether it’s worth watching or not. But Bajirao Mastani is an experience which deserves to be watched multiple times. If you don’t believe me, be a Santa and go and watch it and give yourself a magnificent treat this Christmas!



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