When you think of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, what comes to mind? Grandiose settings. Colorful costumes. Strong acting. He is back with these elements and much more in his latest flick Bajirao Mastani.
A simple historical love story, this film revolves around three characters: Bajirao Ballad (Ranveer Singh), his wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra), and his second wife, Mastani (Deepika Padukone). This love story transcends the boundaries of religion and duty and exposes core human vulnerabilities experienced by each and every character.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali transports us to the era when Bajirao Ballad fought for the Maratha empire. Characteristic of every Bhansali directorial, this too features beautiful cinematography by Sudeep Chatterjee and lavish settings by the entire production design team. The dialogues by Prakash Kapadia are prolific and poetic, interspersing multiple languages, namely Urdu, Hindi, Marathi, and Sanskrit.
The strength of this film lies in its characters. Ranveer Singh is marvelous as Rao. His dancing in “Malhari” is energetic, and his accent throughout the film perfectly suits the role. Even though her screen time is relatively short compared to Deepika and Ranveer, Priyanka Chopra steals the show with her portrayal of Kashibai. Kashi represents the ultimate conflict of dharma, and we feel her pain as the neglected wife in every scene. She is bound by duty and societal norms, but she is still a good human being. There could have been no better choice than Priyanka Chopra to play this complex, nuanced, powerful character.
Another strength of this movie is its music and visuals. The entire soundtrack, put together by Bhansali himself, suits the overall feel and vibe of the movie. Deepika Padukone looks beautiful as Mastani and her dancing in the song “Deewani Mastani” is graceful. Mastani’s fierceness as a Rajput warrior also lend power to her character.
Final Verdict: Bajirao Mastani is not a film but an experience that must be felt in a movie theater, not on a small TV or computer screen. The military strategy and reasoning are fascinating, and while there are battle scenes, it is not as violent as one would expect based on the trailers (which is a good thing!). Despite the anti-climactic ending, definitely don’t miss this classy work of art!