The movie starts off with a long disclaimer on how the movie is the filmmaker’s vision and is not a true historical episode, probably to ward off negative criticism as such made by Namrata Joshi, claiming that the movie’s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali willfully takes liberties with history. Liberties or not Bhansali has literally breathed life into Nagnath S Inamdar’s novel Raau, from which Bajirao Mastani takes its storyline.
Bajirao Mastani is a historical epic based on the 18th-century Marathi general Bajirao Ballal Bhat, who fought and won some 40 battles against the Mughals with the vision of creating a unified Hindu kingdom. The plot is woven around the love story of Bajirao and his second wife Mastani whose courtship is met with hostility by Bajirao’s family. No more spoilers, if you want to know more about the Bajrao-Mastani love story go get yourself a ticket.
Starring Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, Bajirao Mastani is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The movie’s music score was also composed by Bhansali.
The movie was first announced as early as 2003 but due to casting issues Bhansali went on to make several other movies in the meantime, namely: Black, Saawariya and Guzarish. If things had gone Bhansali’s way Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan would have played the lead roles. They were Bhansali’s lead pair in his 1999 movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam as well, but could not cast them in Bajirao due to the much publicized breakup of the couple. Bhansali finally settled for his lead pair in his 2013 movie Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone.
Both Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone are said to have undergone rigorous preparation for the movie. Having to shave his head off was probably the least of Ranveer Singh’s worries. Ranveer’s Maharashtrian accent and building up his body to be warrior-ready is praiseworthy. Such commitment was previously reported from Hollywood actors such as Tom Hanks when he put on 50 pounds during pre-production for his movie Cast Away and then again lost 55 pounds in four months with a diet and a rigorous exercise regime. Christian Bale dieted for over four months to drastically lose weight for the movie The Machinist. He lost 62 pounds for the movie, reducing his body mass to 120 pounds.
Both Ranveer and Deepika had to be trained in an ancient form of Indian martial art referred to as Kalaripayattu. While Padukone trained in the dance form of Kathak, Ranveer had to learn Marathi and horseback riding.
Where Dilwale had allocated much of its budget on smashing cars, Bajirao Mastani has spent shamelessly on costumes and sets. With elaborately painted walls, well thought through costumes, high ceilinged mansions adorned with chandeliers, gruesome war scenes and the whole nine yards Bajirao Mastani is probably as glamorous as Jodha Akbar, if not more so.
In fact starting from the name Bajirao Mastani, everything about the movie reminds of Jodha Akbar. Bajirao Mastani is also about a love between a Muslim and a Hindu. Bajirao is Hindu and Mastani is referred to as half-Muslim. It makes one wonder whether the Hindi cinema is stagnating in historical epics, using again and again the same clichéd plot of love between Hindus and Muslims.
However, you are assured more action than Jodha Akbar in Bajirao Mastani. In Jodha Akbar their love story enjoyed more attention in the plot. In Bajirao Mastani there is little plot, with too many interruptions to the plot in the way of song.
The Indian Express probably sums it up in their review; “[Bajirao Mastani] is a costume drama: too many costumes, too much revved-up, empty drama and too little plot.”
But Nation recommends Bollywood movie lovers to watch Bajirao Mastani. If for nothing else watch it for Priyanka Chopra’s superb portrayal of Kashibai, Bajirao’s first wife. New York Times reviewer Rachel Saltz says that Kashibai played by Priyanka Chopra is more convincing than Deepika. True enough Chopra does make serious impact with the fewer number of scenes she plays in the movie. Watch Bajirao Mastani to see how Chopra, playing the supporting role, vies for lead role with Padukone.
reviewed by Sajitha Prematunge