Bajirao Mastani is everything a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie can be about: Magnificent sets; elaborate costumes, showcasing Anju Modi at her best and larger than life but a little weak drama. While it was unarguably one of the best performances of the leading actors- Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, Bajirao Mastani was left short of being a historical epic primarily because of a not-so-concrete plot-line.
The smartly-crafted disclaimer right before the beginning of the film well-embraced the liberties the director Bhansali took with historical facts about the Maratha peshwa Bajirao Ballad, much to the disappointment of many historians. The central love-tale between peshwa Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) and the half-Rajput, half-Muslim princess of Bundelkhand, Mastani (Deepika Padukone) was vivid but only in bits and pieces amidst politics and grandeur. The dialogues and dance sequences were certainly spectacular, meeting all expectations from a Bhansali movie. At the same time, however, certain sequences had little relevance like the song ‘Pinga’ which stuck as a misfit could have been just done away with.
The first half of the film is a slowly running plot, leaving the spectators languor and curious for what awaits at the same time. The art of the film lies in its cinematography where battle sequences are shot intricately to bring out the Maratha zest and valour. In the second half, the movie picks up pace focusing almost equally on the politics of battle; the love and longing of the first wife, Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra) and the face-off between faith, love and societal norms.
All stars to the actors on-screen; where Ranveer Singh has pulled off exceptionally, the gallant Bajirao whose love for Mastani is esoteric and Deepika Padukone’s dual role of a female warrior loyal to her state and later to that of an intoxicated lover and devoted mother kept the strings of the film strong in her hands. Priyanka Chopra’s role in the first half is limited where she comes and goes off screen without much substance. It’s in the second half when her portrayal of longing and bitter loss of her partner to another woman takes the limelight and leaves an impression behind. The supporting cast added adequately to the mood of the film- Tanvi Azmi’s role of Bajirao’s widowed mother and Milind Soman’s role of Bajirao’s adviser Ambaji Panth certainly stood out.
Simply put, sharing the screen space with the wife and the mistress in the first half and later making the choice between love and duty, it’s Ranveer Singh’s film. The alluring sets of ‘Shanivarada’ and Mughal-e-Azam fame ‘Aaina Mahal’ give the movie an edge of detail and romance. Bhansali’s music suffices the opulence of the film. One would sit till the end only to know the fate of the devoted love of Bajirao and Mastani. Though the message stands relevant today: Love knows no religion. Whether love is a religion itself, however, is a subject to relativity and interpretation!
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