If you are walking into the theatres to watch Bajirao Mastani, you must anticipate the typical glamour and regalia of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. If you have previously been impressed by Devdas, you may like this plot just as much.
Bajirao Mastani had generated quite the hype since Bhansali announced the venture immediately after the success of Devdas over a decade ago. It was originally rumoured to cast Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai in the lead roles. These were the glory days of the duo when they enjoyed much recognition as a couple, but fate can be spiteful sometimes. The widely blazoned break up put a full stop to any further progress during the pre-production stage.
Although Bhansali focused on other projects such as Saawariya and Gloiyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, the expectation of the recommencement of Bajirao Mastani never died out. Eventually, after over a decade, the project was recommenced with yet another widely hyped rumour that Shahrukh Khan had been roped in for the project, but the King Khan preferred Dilwale over Bajirao Mastani. Not to be done, Bhansali pursued the project with another sizzling couple in Bollywood, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone as the lead characters.
The flamboyant duo have always had amazing on-screen chemistry, and that chemistry is reproduced in Bajirao Mastani too. They executed their roles to perfection. In particular, the character of Mastani, played by Deepika Padukone must be highly commended. Her role as a warrior princess who was humbled by the love of her own choosing and her lionhearted efforts to put up with the constant subjugation and ridicule at the hands of society is worthy of a standing ovation. Ranveer Singh as Bajirao is not so much befitting his role as Deepika as Mastani. Nonetheless his performance is far from disappointing.
Despite the super performances by the actors, there were some very notable blotches to the otherwise impressive movie. The movie was based on the true legend of Peshwa Bajirao who lived in the early 18th Century. During this period, the Moghul empire was rapidly declining, while the Maratha Empire was fast gaining domination, and the stories of Peshwa Bajirao’s heroics had been widely heralded. This movie however, chooses to focus on the private life of Bajirao and his undying love for his second wife Mastani.
For those who have read the legend of the popular love story, the movie does not depict half as much as the viewer may know. However, for the audiences who have not read or heard of the legend, the movie may result in much confusion. The movie is very quick to shift focus from the battleground to the private chambers of the palaces and gives in to a theme of love while making poor attempts to upkeep the integrity of Bajirao’s heroics.
True, the movie shed light on the ignominious life of a princess who is shunned and forced to live as an outcaste even within the very walls of her palace. It also reflects on the racist culture of the people of the time, where persons considered caste, creed and religion above all else. However, the director fails to inform the audiences when shifting momentum. The movie is not a fast paced one as the audience may expect, but rather one where there is constant uninformed skipping of parts leaving the audience to wonder what happened. It becomes inevitably confusing when there is a sudden change in ambience and new characters are introduced.
For example, in the legend, Bajirao has three children with his first wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra), but the movie only depicts the birth of his second child. At a latter part of the movie, his eldest son known as Nana Saheb is introduced and plays an important role.
The Director makes only little attempt in identifying him as the son of Bajirao. The constant shifting of scenes makes the audience feel disconnected and lost while watching the movie. To add to the confusion, for some odd reason, the lead characters never seem to age even as decades pass, while some other characters vanish into thin air.
Apart from this major blunder, all else fits very well thanks to the incredible performances of the lead actors, Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. The performance of Priyanka Chopra as Kashibai is also worthy of commendation. Together, the trio could make an audience completely overlook the blunders of the Director. However, such blunders cannot skip the eye of a good critique. I am willing to offer a moderate 5.5/10 for Bajirao Mastani.