First Watch · Movies

Bajirao Mastani


cinemaspotter rating: ***
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Mashhoor mere ishq ki kahani ho gayi…
Kehte hain yeh deewani mastani ho gayi.

Shreya Ghoshal’s haunting voice pervades into my soul as a memorable cinematic moment is created.

Even as Mastani declares her love openly to Bajirao right under the nose of his wife Kashibai, the mirrored stage is set for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s dream opus Bajirao Mastani.

Kashibai Bajirao Mastani, in my view.

It’s not his best I don’t think but it’s the most seamless of Bhansali’s signature grandeur storytelling. The stunning sets complement the conflicted lives of the three lead characters without taking away from the narrative’s focus.

I guess my disappointment lies in expecting history to rewrite itself. And it doesn’t. The heart of Khamoshi, the sorrow of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, the madness of Ram Leela and the triumph of Black is missing. Parts of it are painfully contrived. There is also the Mughal-e-Azam hangover.

Overlook that and there is still lots to take away and silently treasure. The nucleus of my heart strings again. The story, the visuals and the creative aspects. Deepika in Mohe Rang Do Laal and Deewani Mastani. The memorable performances. SLB’s feather touch in some critical scenes. He rightly keeps it toned and tuned on a perfect note. The way he makes Bajirao and Mastani seem incomplete without Kashibai.

Bhansali lives to tell this historic tale reigniting curiosity in this trio of yore. Tapping on the eternal spirituality of love. The heartbreak of acceptance, endurance and sacrifice. The rigid, hypocritical aspects of religion and tradition. His team and lead actors support him in his endeavour.

Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee and production designers Saloni Dhatrak, Sriram Iyengar and Sujeet Sawant seize the moment to make it subtly yet visually stunning. Not a speck or frame is out of place. It’s as grand as it can get in Hindi cinema.

Sanchit Balhara teams up with the director to string some memorable music gems, Deewani Mastani, Aayat, Albela Sajan (encore, with different music this time) and Mohe Rang Do Laal. The whole album is worth listening to as a couple of songs were missing in the movie. Though Deewani Mastani is on my loop right now, will be back to enjoy the other numbers in time.

Now for the most delectable part: the performances.

Firstly, mighty relieved that the movie didn’t work out with Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor whom SLB had signed originally. I just can’t visualise them as the star-crossed lovers.

Deepika Padukone plays Mastani with heart and abandon, as is expected of her by now. Gosh, the actress is on fire. I am in love with her. No, really. Such grace, elegance and strength she lends Mastani – it’s all her. She is excellent. And somehow capable and able to cut across multiple eras with rare ease in her films: armed with a classic face, impeccable body language and a bank of expressions.

Ranveer Singh as Bajirao holds the weight of physical warrior and conflicted husband-lover on his stable shoulders with equal passion and conscience. The actor pulls out emotions and wields swords with the finesse of a seasoned professional. The accent is right, the body language confidently measured and his eyes fiery as hell. Five years after his debut, post Lootera, Ram Leela and Dil Dhadakne Do, this underdog is on a winning spree.

Undoubtedly, Priyanka Chopra turns in the scene-stealing performance, making Kashibai the soul and backbone of the film. From a happy, naive, trusting wife she turns into a shadow of herself as she loses Bajirao to Mastani bit by bit. The sorrow and bitter reluctantly give way to dignity and acceptance and the depth of the wife’s journey is captured evocatively by PC. She is flawless.

Between them, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone ensure the wife, the warrior and his Mastani stay with you long after the curtains are drawn on this eternal love triangle.

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