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‘Bajirao Mastani’ – Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Labor of Love
Coming out after a screening of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Bajirao Mastani’, I encountered two middle-aged women. One of them said to the other, ” I’m so drained. I’ve cried so much – and now we have to get back to real life!”
Yes, your own real life is far away and forgotten as you wade into the emotional high drama of ‘Bajirao Mastani’ the tempestuous passion play of the Maratha ruler Peshwa Bajirao and Mastani, the Muslim warrior-princess. Caught in the quagmire is Kashibai, the lovely and loving first wife of Bajirao.
Have you watched ‘Bajirao Mastani’ yet? If yes, you’re not going to forget it easily and poignant bits and pieces will keep interrupting real life.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s time that you did.
Ranveer Singh – Bajirao
Rarely do you see a film as flawless as this one, a visual wonderland which draws you in, pulls you in, sucks you into those bygone centuries, into those tormented lives. It’s a film which was reportedly in development for 15 years. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has made it with so much passion and so much love – and the stars are aligned perfectly. More than any of his other films, ‘Bajirao Mastani’ creates magic. This is his finest film and all the other films seem to have been leading to this one, the masterpiece. No scene could have been better visualized.
The performances are flawless, it’s all in the eyes, in the expressions, in the mind. All three – Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra breathe life into the characters of Bajirao, Mastani and Kashibai who come across as strong, real people. Ranveer is Bajirao – a powerful performance right down to the smallest details – Perfect accent, behavior, grit and also brawn.
Deepika Padukone – Mastani
Deepika has had a bumper year with so many good performances but she shines as Mastani – beautiful, fierce yet vulnerable. Her sans makeup, de-glamorized look brings out the innocence of her face – there’s a purity and a dignity which suffuses her in every scene. In the battle scenes, she looks like a blazing Joan of Arc in her chainmail battle gear, and in scene after scene – especially the dance sequences of ‘Deewani Mastani’, she is simply ethereal.
Priyanka Chopra – Kashibai
As for Priyanka Chopra, it’s a long way from Alex Parrish to Kashibai. You know her as the smart, sharp, ass-kicking FBI agent Alex in ‘Quantico’ who’s been swallowing up your Sunday evenings. But now like a chameleon, the amazing Priyanka turns into someone totally from another century, another temperament.
She turns in a heartbreakingly nuanced performance as the good wife betrayed by Balaji. Kudos to Sanjay Leela Bhansali for creating such strong roles for his women. Mastani of course is intended to be a fighter, a warrior princess but with Kashibai he etches a powerful portrait too – that of dignity and grace – of a woman who can hold her own even when she loses everything.
An Interview with Sanjay Leela Bhansali about the Making of ‘Bajirao Mastani’
Bhansali has aced it, with the direction, the cinematography, the costumes and most of all, the beautiful music which binds everything. setting the mood. He’s poet and painter and dreamer, and even uses the elements for his stage effects. Water, for instance, is used with breathtaking results, be it their sensual submersion in the fountain by Bajirao and Mastani, or Bajirao battling a dark, angry ocean on the boat. Every last detail of ‘Bajirao Mastani’ has been created with devotion – it’s a stroll inside the mind of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and we are privileged to be invited along for the ride.
‘Bajirao Mastani’ also shows that when done right, Bollywood is no less than any other cinema. Here Bhansali turns the familiar traits of Bollywood – music, dance and drama – into the film’s strengths. With its spectacular box-office performance and critical reviews, this film proves that Indian audiences are willing and ready for serious, quality offerings.
While the story of ‘Bajirao Mastani’ is hundreds of years old, the issue that it addresses – of love and acceptance across religion and culture – is very pertinent and still not embraced fully – be it in India or the US.
A bold, brave theme for our times – humanity surely is above religion and race – yet of course we haven’t understood or accepted this yet, even in our modern times. And so history is destined to repeat itself.
Do share your opinion! What did you think of Bajirao Mastani?