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Tanhaji: Authentic but falls short on history


Fell asleep while watching Tanhaji (Tanaji) last night. To be fair, I was also super tired from consecutive late nights. From parts that I did watch, it is a decent attempt at a historical drama and an engaging story line for what it tried to convey. It was fairly light on the depth of content and context of that era but had an authentic touch in terms of great costumes, decent production and fabulous performances overall.

From what I remember from history books: Tanaji was a trusted aide of Shivaji in his fight for Swaraj (freedom) from Mughal and Adilshahi rulers. Apart from his bravery, strategy and diplomacy, Shivaji also stood for benevolence and humanity of Indians against corruption and religious oppression and fought fair fights as a warrior against his opponents.

Even though it focuses more on war, blood, gory and indulges the hyper-masculine culture of the Indian world lapped up by popular Hindi cinema viewers. Moments in the movie do capture Shivaji and Tanaji’s warm relationship, the spine and spirit of Maratha women and the era well. With a balanced historical depiction, free from pandering to the current Nationalist government, more than token inclusion attempts, it would have been a definite winner.

Great to see heartthrob Ajinkya Deo make an appearance. Sharad Kelkar captures Shivaji with heart. Luke Kenny who portrays Aurangzeb is shown as largely gimmick-free, interestingly he makes his entry knitting a cap, Wikipedia tells me he earned his own money and did not depend on state money for his personal expenses since luxury was not on the top of his list. Saifu plays Udaybhan with the fine brilliance he is known for, although it borders on being a caricature and has a huge Khilji hangover from Padmaavat.

Watching Ajay and Kajol together on and off screen is always a pleasure. Kajol’s finale song is stunning, it intimately captures a woman’s grief with grace and beauty. She breaks into tears, which always moves me and I find it hard to watch her cry. I do admit, having been a fan of both stars for years, that I question their commitment to this thumping Colour Orange exercise which adds weight to the Hindu rhetoric, given the context of what is happening in India right now. The movie does make an attempt to be neutral but it is hard to see it as such.

cinemaspotter rating: 3.5 out of 5

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