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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Bajirao Mastani-Movie Review: ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ of the 21st Century

In Hindi cinema this Christmas, both Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani (BM) and Rohit Shetty’s Dilwale have been released and prepared for a mighty box-office battle! SLB’s latest venture has been considered for many years.  As such, this epic venture promises to live up to standards set by magnum opuses like Mughal-e-Azam and Jodhaa Akbar. Plus, with a ‘royal’ starcast consisting of Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, the expectations are incredibly high. Here’s my review on Bajirao Mastani!

Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB)

Cast: Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Tanvi Azmi, Milind Soman, Aditya Pancholi and Mahesh Manjrekar

Synopsis: The film narrates the love story of a Brahmin Maratha warrior Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) with his mistress Mastani (Deepika Padukone) whilst married to Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra) and the challenges he faces during his sovereignty.

What’s Good?  1. Location, location, LOCATION:  In any SLB movie, one can rest assured that there will be exquisite locations and extravagant sets. While it is believed that major portions of internal scenes were filmed at Mumbai’s Film City studios, the external sequences were shot at various locations such as: Gujarat, Wai (Maharashtra) and Rajasthan (to name a few). Kudos to the production designers Sujeet Sawant, Sriram Iyngar and Saloni for encompassing the essence of Maharashtrian royalty through the grandeur sets. They have done a great job. In addition, the costumes (designed by Anju Modi) emphasise the royalty and glamour of the characters. The outfits looked stunning on celluloid.

bajirao-mastani-332. The spellbinding music and direction:

Now SLB just has the creative vision for his movies. He scores once again with Bajirao. From the battle portions to romantic quotients, every scene is executed with perfection. There are several visually appealing sequences which is a cinematic treat for the audience. One must brace themselves for the climax sequence. I particularly liked the use of CGI to convey a specific idea here. It gave me goosebumps!

SLB, being a creative director once again takes the front seat as the composer. Post Ram-Leela, he has proven that he does not need anyone else to compose a successful album. With Bajirao, every song has a majestic feel to it. The tracks Deewani Mastani, Malhari and Pinga have already become chartbusters. The rest of the songs are also a delight! But a good job by choreographers: Ganesh Acharya, Remo D’Souza and Pony Verma for bringing these songs to life!

3. Kya baat hai! The dialogues:

1442308541_bajirao-mastani-movie-stillAlthough Ram-Leela was an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the dialogue exchange in this film are very poetic! One must applaud Prakash Kapadia, who also wrote the screenplay, has done a splendid job. Personally, I like all the dialogues. However one which stuck with me after the movie is when Deepika tells Mahesh Manjrekar: Kiski talvar par sar rakhu. Ishq karna khata hai, toh saza do mujhe. (on whose sword do I lay my head? If falling in love is a crime, then punish me). Fantastic!

4. And the award goes to… THE PERFORMANCES:


It’s crunch time… Let’s analyse the performances! To begin with, Ranveer Singh portrays the titular role of Bajirao. From his facial expressions to body postures, he brought the warrior to life. The chemistry between him, Deepika and even Priyanka was sizzling. In every scene, he seems to excel as an actor! Plus, his authoritative tone of voice emphasises his majestic presence. Deepika Padukone essays the second titular role of Mastani. Well, what can one say about her? Her performance was probably the best in her career so far. When it came to war sequences, she was a fierce tigress. When it came to the dance/romantic quotients, she was a glamorous nymph. Deepika gets the balance right. Furthermore, her confident dialogue delivery makes you scream  ‘encore’! Priyanka Chopra portrays Kashibai, Bajirao’s first wife. The transition from the chirpy, happy-go-lucky wife in the first half, to the  heartbroken lady in the second half, Priyanka proves that she shines in any role, regardless of how big or small it is. Moreover, if you thought the Aishwarya-Madhuri scene in Devdas was interesting,  the confrontation scene between Deepika-Priyanka, is equally nail-biting to watch! Tanvi Azmi, as Bajirao’s mother with shades of grey, was good. Generally, the supporting cast were great. But one could not take their eyes off the leading actors!

What’s bad?

5. ‘Niche.’ Like seriously?!

So recently SRK said that Bajirao is a ‘niche’ film. Well, I must say that if one is searching for a raunchy Ram-Leela styled masala flick then this one is not that. Also, the dialogues are obviously in formal Hindi rather than colloquial everyday dialect, so some may be uncomfortable with this. Having said that, the movie is a completely different genre to other SLB movies. But for the next 158 minutes,  you will not get bored.

On the whole, Bajirao Mastani is another work of art from SLB. The film promised to be a magnum opus and that’s exactly what it is. The sincere performances, spellbinding cinematic sequences, foot-tapping soundtrack, majestic sets and costumes make the film worth-watching venture. This epic film should not be missed!

4-stars   (4/5 stars)



Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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