Bajirao Mastani, Spectacular

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Dec 2015 10:58:05

Bajirao Mastani


By Aasawari Shenolikar

Love has no colour; love is a religion in itself. And this is primarily what Sanjay Leela Bhansali depicts in his royal epic Bajirao Mastani. As soon as the credits roll, you know that you are in for a spectacular visual treat. The love story of a warrior is mounted on a really grand scale and the long disclaimer at the beginning puts to rest any speculations about distorting of any historical facts.
If Bhansali is the creator of this epic drama, it is the characters who infuse radiance and soul to bring to life a magnificent treat for the eyes.
The opening scene has Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) walking up to Shahu Maharaj to accept the title of Peshwa. And from the moment the camera pans on Bajirao, he floors you with his confidence, his body language and the perfect Marathi touch and accent to his spoken Hindi. As Bajirao roars ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and goes off conquering parts of India to bring them under the Maratha regime, Mastani, Princess of Bundelkhand who wants his help to save her kingdom from Mughal invasion, accosts him. He agrees to help her. It is in the battlefield that they lose their hearts to each other. Knowing fully well that the Chitpavan Brahmins will not accept her, she still follows Bajirao to Pune. Love blossoms and Bajirao accepts her as his second wife. The distressed Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra), Bajirao’s first wife doesn’t wallow in self-pity, and shows that she is offended by his action. Radha Ma (Tanvi Azmi), Bajirao’s mother doesn’t let go of even a single opportunity to belittle Mastani. But Mastani has completely surrendered herself to Bajirao and cannot see beyond him. Religion acts as the obstacle in their love story, and Bajirao turns against his own for Mastani.
Granted that it is difficult to tear your eyes away from Bhansali’s spellbind aesthetics enveloped in russet and shades of gold, and his spectacular play of shades and shadows, and even though cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee creates fantabulous frames but in the end you do miss out on one important thing - the story.
Amidst the sporadic battles shown on the screen and a mention by Chimmaji Appa of ‘Bajirao having won 40 battles in a row’, the story predominantly revolves around the chemistry between Bajirao and Mastani and the action and reaction of people to his royal affair. So historians, ready with their swords drawn to tear apart Bhansali and his project can breathe easy because barring the mention of ‘winning 40 battles’, Bhansali hasn’t illustrated anything that can be said to distort history. And the disclaimer takes care of the rest - he has taken cinematic liberties - far too many - to create the blazing romance between the warrior and the warrior princess.
Deepika Padukone is brilliant as Mastani. As the firebrand princess she takes your breath away and as the much in love woman, her eyes do the talking. But it is Priyanka Chopra, who has a much lesser role, who leaves you spellbound with her acting. She completely mesmerises you when her entire face lights up when she comes face-to-face with Bajirao, the way her inner turmoil is reflected on her face and the hurt in her eyes and voice is something that puts Priyanka on top of the ladder in the acting department. Tanzi Azmi as widowed strong mother of Bajirao is incredible.
However, in spite of the power packed performances by the trio of women and also by the supporting cast, Bajirao Mastani belongs completely to Ranveer Singh. He gets into the skin of the character; he lives and breathes Bajirao - the way he struts, swaggers, and talks - he is in sync with Bhansali’s vision. Needless to say his chemistry with Deepika is sizzling. And without a shade of doubt this can be counted as his best performance till date.
Bhansali has also given the music for Bajirao Mastani and it complements each and every scene; songs are mellifluous but Pinga Pinga falls short on expectation. I think there are too many similarities with Dola Re and it is but natural that comparisons will be made. Madhuri and Aishwarya were grace personified; the same cannot be said about this duo - in fact Deepika is clearly awkward in the dance sequence.
Despite the minor shortcomings Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani is an extravaganza, infused with colour, dramatic visual treat. Watch it not only for the majestic creative canvas but also for Ranveer Singh.

The Hitavada Rating :
♣ ♣ ♣