For those who were intrigued by all the controversy before the release of Bajirao Mastani, spare yourself the trouble of dusting off the history books or feverishly hitting the web search box. More than being a slice of history, Sanjay Leela Bhansali's latest film is essentially a celebration of love, a tale that portrays the conflict of human emotion against the backdrop of war, patriarchy and existing socio-religious norms which do not relent even in the face of an all-conquering warrior.
The tale of Bajirao and his beloved Mastani tugs at your heart and awakens deep emotions that you seldom associate with the unilateral narrative of strength and valour, courage and conviction, character and charisma associated with Maratha history. In the heady milieu of saffron supremacy and heroism is hidden the poignant tale of a warrior who knows no defeat, until of course he loses his heart to Mastani, the famed warrior princess from Bundelkhand.
Spellbinding visuals, crackling dialogues, soulful renditions of songs, a riveting plot and performances extraordinaire, there's just so much that works for Bajirao Mastani.
For a tale of this nature to succeed, what you need is a master storyteller who is able to cut through the pre-informed beliefs of a viewer and make them accept the version of truth presented on the screen. Bhansali does that and some more. What he has created isn't just another film -- it is a piece of art that brings alive the marvel that 18th-century India was -- the emotions, architecture, grandeur, and culture that defined her.
Spellbinding visuals, crackling dialogues, soulful renditions of songs, a riveting plot and performances extraordinaire, there's just so much that works for Bajirao Mastani. Deepika Padukone's Mastani is frail, fragile and powerful at the same time. Her lines, delivered with the precision of an arrow, pierce through your heart; however, it's her love-longing eyes that speak the loudest. She says it best when she says nothing at all. Priyanka Chopra's Kashibai rises above her misery and captures your attention just as much as the subject of this period drama does. Ranveer Singh has put his heart and soul in his Bajirao to portrait a winning warrior and a defeated romantic with conviction. The music and background score perfectly complement the ebbs and flow of the narrative.
When the screen gives way to the end credits and as you reluctantly get off your seat, as a viewer what you are left with is a sense of incompleteness. For those 158 minutes while the magic unfolds on the screen you are so engulfed by the characters on the screen that you unite yourself with their destiny and live in a time and space that does not belong to you. You do not want to come out. You feel helpless.
If it were not for the love and passion with which Sanjay Leela Bhansali created it, this gentle love story would perhaps only have remained a footnote in the pages of Maratha history. Leave your scepticism home and enjoy this film, for this is one masterpiece you won't want to see just once. You'd love to live every bit of it, every time you see it.
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