Monday 28 December 2015

Bajirao Mastani review


"Ishq ne 'Ghalib' nikamma kar diya, warna ham bhee aadmee the kaam ke "

I succumbed to some reviews myself before experiencing this dream project of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. They told me he has tried to copy 'Devdas' and somehow recreate that magic. They also told me that it was the best film of the year and that history is again blooming in Bollywood. But once I saw it, the first thing that came to my mind was the above couplet of Ghalib.

Distorting history is one thing and not getting things perfect, although perfectly open for opposition, is fine by me. But when a historical figure, revered and honored as much as the great Maratha Peshwa Bajirao is reduced to a new day Ranbir Kapoor in love then I don't get up from that seat and feel like I have got my money's worth. Look at Deepika Padukone as Mastani Bai. Let alone that awesome song by Shreya Ghoshal that is pretty much supposed to be the BSP of the film and you would not find a frame where she does not look out of her place. Look at Ranvir Singh portraying the legendary Peshwa who is so valiant he can take on an entire army on his own, an actor who has surprised one and all by flaunting that Maratha accent and for once tried his best to take up the challenge of Method acting but snaps out of his character to show us that shameless man we not long ago saw on some YouTube roast.

As for a saving grace, look at Priyanka Chopra. I once jokingly said while watching Agneepath that if you pay Priyanka Chopra ten rupees for a role, she will give you back a worth of fifteen rupees. That statement of mine, although apologetic if I meant it literally rather than figuratively, stands no truer than in Bajirao Mastani. She is pretty much the only major character in the movie who does not leave her character for a minute in the movie ( the other being Tanvi Azmi as Bajirao's mother). Whatever happened with Pinga was the Director's and the Choreographer's headache and although that song too is easy on the eyes, that it is objectionable from a historical point of view makes it a failure.

The best frames of Bajirao Mastani are when there are tensions building between relations but sometimes they too get marred with forcefully incorporated 'tukbandi'. One peculiar scene which I loved though apart from them was one between Bajirao and Nizam played by Raza Murad. Let's face it, someone like Raza Murad and a voice like that is indispensable in a historical movie and this film could have used a little more of him. At other times, we are simply fed over the top sequences where Ranvir splits an invisible root with an arrow, jumps to take on elephant riders and where Deepika takes on multiple army men with a sword. What was the use of establishing them as such superbeings if all they had to do was make a sappy, withered, no-salt love story of dying together?

A lesson that film-makers need to take from the movie is that there is no substitute to hard, proven, solid work. Look at a film like Jodha-Akbar and you would know the difference. Practical sets cannot be replaced by cheap CGI where you superimpose a fake water 'thing' below some Amer Fort structure. Another thing that Bhansali could have learnt from Mr. Ashutosh Gowariker is making the viewers believe in the characters they are watching. In Gowariker's film, we knew that the people we were watching really are those sketched in time and whose legacy would be timeless. He was able to achieve this in spite of an un-matchable rival in Mughal-e-Azam. In Bhansali's film, it felt like they are here to do some quick-to-cook-and-serve roles and have to leave for that toothpaste commercial. Guess there were issues with the casting too.

Bandwidth verdict- There is grandeur and there are those lavish sets. But that is something I expect or rather know. Give me something that I don't expect.

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