Friday, December 18, 2015

Review: Bajirao Mastani

Moochein Ho Toh Bajirao Jaisi!

3 Warrior Stars

Mini Review:

You need a certain kind of mindset to swallow a story of Laila-Majnu, Romeo-Juliet, Devdas-Paro type story in 2015. But when the canvas is lushly painted and gorgeously framed, you grudgingly let the magic transport you to Bajirao's romance with Mastani.

Main Review:

Sheee! You think. Marathi people - who eat extra tame pohe - may not exactly know about 'die for ishq' type love and passion at the edge of swords. All the Marathi stories one has grown up is a 17 year old Shivaji and his 'mavle' who trusted him with their lives. No romance there...

So when you read 'Raaoo', and read about this impossible romance between a warrior king and a woman so gorgeous, her skin so translucent when she swallowed paan, you could see the red streaks sliding down her throat... It seems unbelievable because they lived in Pune. Pune, a city of retired folk. Not exactly created for romance of the 'let me die for love' variety.

But Sanjay Leela Bhansali strikes gold by adopting the same formula as he did in Goliyon ki leela...

Bajirao Peshwa turns out to be a mensch man... And his falling in love with a delicate yet strong woman seems so natural and plausible. 

Ranveer Singh does a superb job, getting into the character. He speaks Hindi with a natural Marathi accent. He walks like a warrior, his actions on the battlefield emphasize his status as a warrior, he has the demeanor of a manly man when he's teasing his wife, laughing, and yes... showering.

You see him bathing topless (except for the sacred thread) and in a dhoti with a copper lota, and feel the temperatures in the theater rise. He has a body that's so manly you know why his wife is standing there ogling him. Heck! Every woman in the theater was ogling him.

And he's in love with Mastani, Deepika Padukone. Warrior, dancer, princess. She's exquisite. No matter what she does. You can predict that brides will want to dress like her, wear jewellery like her and give up those awful colored pictures at holi for the superbly art-directed red only hands...

So their love story has a villain in the form of Bajirao mother (Tanvi Azmi), who takes an instant dislike to Mastani's presence. She loves Bajirao's wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra who seems to have curlier and curlier hair with every passing scene)...

There are machinations orchestrated by Bajirao's mom and punditjis... There are bloody battles and there are rivalry wale scenes between Bajirao's love and his wife... There is also a poignant scene between the wife and the hapless in love Bajirao... 

But you don't stop facepalming each time characters walk into water tanks, pools all over palaces. Don't they know they can walk around them? Don't their chappals squish afterwards? Don't they feel uncomfortable walking out wet from those water tanks and dripping everywhere?

But that's the weird part of watching a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. His quirks show up and you want to drown him in those silly water pools everywhere in the palaces. But when Bajirao in his mad passion stretches his arms to Mastani who steps into the fountain, you forgive him even that...

You think I've lost it? Is this film only good because the gawdawful tacky Dilwale releases alongside?

When you see the work that has gone into the details, you begin to appreciate the awesomeness of the canvas in front of you. You will hear critics complain that it is aping Mughal-e-Azam. Mericifully this criticism is better than the tacky, 'Yeh royal bedroom hai, yeh royal garden hai' from Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo. Nowhere do you doubt the magnificence of the palaces and the events. The grandeur is understated but the colours the director uses are rich. There's no mistaking Mastani's royalty or Bajirao's Peshwai...

Oh yes, Priyanka Chopra gets to play the thwarted yet wonderful wife. She has some brilliant lines of dialog written for her, right from the dagger as sautan bit to the haldi-kumkum ritual ('Enough talk, put the kum kum now!' delivered brilliantly). The trouble was with the very low slung nine yards saree she is made to wear. Every time she appeared in a scene, I was worried for her. Her sarees were so low, I kept imagining a wardrobe malfunction. No matter how beautiful Kashibai is, I did not fancy seeing her buttcrack.

While the first half keeps you riveted, the second half seems to be shot with the screenplay in heavy chains. It drags and drags and drags. The little kids remain little, even vanish, and the older kid suddenly grows up. And of course the death... So prolonged and torturous, you want to jump into the movie with a 'Har, har Mahadev!' and stab Mastani and pray real hard for the ghariyals in the Narmada to gobble up the suffering Bajirao...

If you enjoy slightly poetic dialog about ishq, patriotism, war, and other such royal pursuits, then you will like this epic historical fiction.

If you want to crib about historical inaccuracies (widows did not wear white, the damned forts looked wrong, the palace was within the city and not so huge, there was no such thing as aaina mahal) then you are better off spending movie money on fusion food at a fancy restaurant which is less real but gives you the satisfaction of being called 'foodie'

I enjoyed the spectacle unraveling in front of me, hated the tame ending, loved Ranveer Singh's histrionic talent, was charmed by Deepika and awed by her swordsmanship, sighed over a delicious Milind Soman...And yes, the music was amazing, especially the version of Albela Sajan Aayo Ri! Makes you believe he is really is 'Albela'!

Did not regret the Marathi Talwaron kee Raas Leela at all... Two and a half hours well spent!

P.S. I fell in love with the scene where Bajirao throws his dagger at his younger brother Chimaji Appa and then after maroing a huge dialog about the dagger not missing its mark, but 'rishte beech mein aa gaye thay'. I loved how he politely asks him to f***k off in Marathi: 'Yaa ata!'


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