Ranveer, Deepika, Priyanka shine in this epic love story
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Tanvi Azmi, Mahesh Manjrekar, Milind Soman
Direction: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani is in essence the story of Bajirao and Mastani. The director’s ode to undying love does make you pine for that kind of an extraordinary story, which can show the thumb to the shackles of worldly trivialities. Bhansali takes a leaf out of history, and crafts it into an exquisite tale. And all the participants in this orchestra are in tune with the conductor, despite the occasional out-of-note keys.
Bajirao Mastani opens with Chhatrapati Shahu (Mahesh Manjrekar) asking nominations for the post of the Peshwa. A display of his skill and wisdom lands Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) the title. The Peshwa’s reputation as a warrior and statesman par excellence is hardly restricted within the Maratha empire.
From far off Bundelkhand, a messenger reaches Bajirao to ask for assistance against enemies. The person is almost brushed off, but for the temerity. Once the headgear is thrown off, Bajirao sees Mastani (Deepika Padukone) for the first time. And something electric seems to leap out of the screen.
Bajirao accompanies Mastani to her kingdom and saves Bundelkhand from the attackers. In the process, the married Bajirao leaves Mastani madly in love with him. Back in Pune, Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra) welcomes her husband back home from the battle.
Mastani follows suit, and lands in Pune among the other gifts from Bundelkhand. The half-Muslim, half-Rajput princess faces humiliation at the hands of Bajirao’s mother (Tanvi Azmi) and yearns for her lover. Bajirao Mastani follows the trajectory of the lovers, whose fates are intertwined with each other. And behind Bajirao and Mastani, is the heartbroken Kashi, whose resigned acceptance of her fate is poignant to say the least.
Bajirao Mastani doesn’t leave much room for complaint. The story sucks you in from the first frame, and stays that way till the interval. Post that, the pace slackens here and there, but overall, it is a delight.
Ranveer Singh delivers his career-best performance, leaving behind even Lootera. As the fierce-at-times, passionate-at-others Bajirao, Singh is spellbinding. The actor does need to work on his voice modulation, though. Deepika’s Mastani can kill with a look from that pair of un-kohl-ed eyes. She is as agile and consummate with the sword, as with her words.
As Kashibai, Priyanka Chopra breathes life into the grief that every woman who has had to accept ‘the other woman’ in her life has had to bear. The ever-dependable Tanvi Azmi plays the intimidating matriarch with elan. The supporting cast does a fabulous job with all their respective roles. A special mention for Milind Soman and Mahesh Manjrekar.
The sets, production design and cinematography of Bajirao Mastani deserve a standing ovation. So grand and baroque is everything about this film that you’re at a loss of words. The scenes in front of you deserve to be swallowed in; every frame is breathtaking. Hats off to Sudeep Chatterjee’s camera and Bhansali’s eye for intricacy. There are those times when the sets look unreal, though.
At a quarter short of three hours, the editing could have been much, much crisper. The long-drawn sequence with a delirious Bajirao, for example, could easily have been shortened. There are times when a fettered Mastani reminds one of Anushka Shetty in Baahubali. But having said that, Bhansali remains the master love-storyteller.
The music of the film is haunting. The background score, Deewani Mastani and Aayat are among the songs that stay with one long after the film ends.
In all, Bajirao Mastani is an experience. And one that needs to be savoured in a theatre.