bajirao mastani

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Maratha history gets the full-on Sanjay Leela Bhansali treatment in Bajirao Mastani.The overwrought but impressive extravaganza elevates the legendary 18th century warrior-hero determined to establish Hindu rule across the subcontinent to the level of a selfless crusader for love in a climate of hate and bigotry.bajirao mastani movie download

Bhansali fictionalizes several of Bajirao’s key battles but focuses more on the married Peshwa’s passion for Mastani, the beautiful and courageous half Rajput, half-Muslim princess of Bundelkhand.

Every emotion in the film – be it love, longing or valour on the battlefield – is translated into a grand and elaborate song-and-dance routine.

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A couple of the musical set pieces do not ring true in a historical epic about a man whose place in history is primarily as an unvanquished general.

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These are but minor aberrations in a sweeping love story that is mounted on such a grandiose scale and crafted with such vaulting zeal that eventually the smaller details cease to matter.bajirao mastani movie download

Bajirao Mastani is, in many respects, Bhansali’s most subversive film to date. Its central message is that all religions preach love but love has no religion.

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Love, the film conveys via Irrfan Khan’s voice, is a religion by itself and those that swear by its tenets become immortal like Bajirao and Mastani.

Peshwa Bajirao, played with flair by Ranveer Singh, takes on the unbending clergy and his own angry family to uphold Mastani’s dignity after she arrives in Pune as his second wife.bajirao mastani movie download

To liven up this “love story of a warrior”, Bhansali, as is his wont, rustles up a series of spectacular visuals, each as blindingly awash in red, russet and gold and bathed in light and shade as all the others.

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Some of the pivotal scenes are well conceived and executed and their impact is enhanced by the impressive performances from the principal cast.

While it is difficult to take one’s eyes off the screen, the pace of the narrative, which runs for more than two and a half hours, is not consistent.

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Large parts of the first half of Bajirao Mastani appear to serve only one purpose: setting the stage for a more explosive second half.

But the wait is well worth it: the pace of the film quickens considerably after the two women in Bajirao’s life come face to face.bajirao mastani movie download

The headstrong warrior’s wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra), mother Radhabai (Tanvi Azmi), brother Chimaji (Vaibhav Tatwawdi) and son Nana Saheb (Ayush Tandon), each in his own way, seek to prevent Mastani from worming her way into the Peshwa fold and the family’s abode – Shaniwarwadi.

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Mastani (Deepika Padukone) is shunned, humiliated and even brutalized as she refuses to give up her claim on the man she loves.bajirao mastani movie download

She equates ishq (love) with ibaadat (worship), and notwithstanding the religious and social resistance from those around Bajirao she stands firm and bears him a son.

Mastani wants her son to be called Krishna but the custodians of faith force her and the boy’s father to settle for a less Hindu name, Shamsher Bahadur.

Right at the outset – obviously under mounting pressure from the descendants of Bajirao Peshwa and from some historical purists – the film offers what must surely go down in the annals of Bollywood as the longest-ever disclaimer.

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Among other things, the director admits in the introductory rider that he has taken liberties with facts. He need not have bothered.bajirao mastani movie download

At no point does Bajirao Mastani look any different from all the fictional tales that Bhansali has spun in his eventful career.bajirao mastani movie download

Bajirao Mastani is watchable primarily because of the craft that is on view in the pretty frames lit meticulously by cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee.

The characters allude repeatedly to the sky, to the sun and the moon, to the clouds and to the elements in general in the stodgy first half.

However, except in the competently mounted CGI-aided battles scenes, the sky is rarely seen.
The film instead shows the audience the Valhalla-like grandeur of the sets, the striking costumes designed by Anju Modi and faces lit by fire-torches.

The second half looks and feels markedly different because the visuals open out to take in the sky and the rain and the wind to convey the larger war that Bajirao must fight against his co-religionists.

Bhansali gives us a trio of remarkable women in Bajirao Mastani. Besides the admirable Mastani, a magnificent warrior-princess and a courageous lover, the film has Bajirao’s aggrieved but dignified wife Kashibai and his widowed mother.bajirao mastani movie download

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Deepika is absolutely outstanding as Mastani, a woman in a man’s world, a Muslim in a conservative Chitpavan Brahmin setting, and a mother driven by the power of love.

Priyanka has less in terms of footage and hangs around in the backdrop for the most part. But when the drama gets into its stride, she too comes into her own.

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Tanvi Azmi as Radhabai, a tonsured lady in white calling the shots and constantly testing the patience of her strong-willed first-born, delivers a power-packed performance.

Bajirao Mastani is Ranveer Singh’s film. It has scenes – especially the one in which the male protagonist’s presence and voice are pitted against the presence and voice of Raza Murad (in the guise of the Nizam of the Deccan) – in which he comes up a little short.

But there is no missing the enormous hard work that has been done in order to get into the skin of the character.

In one of the early scenes, Ranveer gets the Puneri accent to perfection, but, for an inexplicable reason, does not follow through with it.bajirao mastani movie download

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movie review

“One person can be in love with two people at the same time.” “Women are empowered and can hold their own.” “Religion shouldn’t be the basis for love or war.” – Each one of these is a bold theme for one film to take on by itself. Bajirao Mastani takes it all on together and does justice to all of them.

Film aside, I am in awe that these themes were picked up in real life, a few centuries ago. I hope this is how it all happened. I hope this is how Bajirao Peshwa was – not only a valiant leader, but also stood up for his women and when necessary stood up against them too; fought his wars but was absolutely clear about why he was fighting them – not for religion. I wonder when we regressed. I wonder what problem anyone would have in believing that the man and the women were as they were portrayed here. aso (so be it.)bajirao mastani movie download

Such strong personalities – each one of them. Once you get over the each-frame-a-beautiful-canvas visuals that are typical of Bhansali films, you are taken over by the characters. The frames stay beautiful, of course, just that the three main leads weave an interesting web. Mastani (Deepika Padukone), the strong-willed woman consumed by love – yes some women are like that, then and now. Bajirao (Ranveer Singh), known as India’s greatest warrior also fell in love and not just once, his vulnerability exposed ever-so slightly. And Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra) – wow! What a lady! Hurting yet holding her pride.

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Priyanka Chopra is an easy winner in this one. Maybe she is relegated to the background for most of the film. But in a couple of “her” scenes – she makes you forget it is her and holds you in awe of Kashibai where you feel her pain too. Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh come across as just pretty people when held against her. They do well, but you begin to notice how after a point they have to hold just one expression. Ranveer Singh overacts a tad bit and has an inconsistent accent. Not that these lapses are intolerable but they make you wonder how much better the performance would have been without.

There were other things that took away from the film. Like the songs, especially the one with the Peshwa celebrating. No, whether or not they happened all those years ago, whether or not it offends anyone – at least one or two of them should’ve been cut out – they should’ve stayed out because they just made the film longer. There were times when the film came across as a saas-bahu1 soap opera, but I guess this was a family drama of its own kind.

The time lapses were distracting too. Too many times, the narrative moved from one character to another without a smooth flow. Looks like Mr. Bhansali had a lot more shot and had to be cruel on the editing table. Another distraction came with the Marathi words thrown in, isn’t it just fine that they are speaking in Hindi in a Hindi film? Then there was the preachy closing – why-o-why?

Of course, even when put together these aberrations are not huge enough to take away from what’s good about the film. Magnificent visuals apart, Bajirao Mastani might be a version of history that I wish is true.

sadly, this is when the characters have just about found their feet and are longing for drama, but Bhansali — favouring obsessively choreographed dance sequences over a plotline — denies them this, making sure actors and audience are mired in limbo.

It is pretty enough as limbos go, but you can only get that far looking at latticework. Also, for all the talk of painstaking period detailing over a 400-day shoot, all that shows through is beauty. Everything is pristine, everything is polished, everything is newly minted. The film is set over many years, but neither heroines nor palace floors age even a day.bajirao mastani movie download

Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee captures this magnificence well, but the visuals only look compelling when the camera is high above all the elaborate symmetry, like when we see rows and rows of green leafs plated flat for Brahmins to feast on.

There is, alas, too little of this and too many battle sequences that are either visually incoherent or rationally so — there is one Rajnikanthian assault that is particularly laughable. As is a badly animated tiger.

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