New year reflections

Stories are a powerful medium through which the tales of people’s lives can be communicated to the world at large. Storytelling is a unique art that requires the wit, craft, and intelligence to piece the important parts together to create a cohesive narrative.

We say each person’s story and journey through life is unique – but is that really the case? The fundamental unifying factors of all stories are experiences, and emotions associated with those experiences. We are all human beings so how different can things really get…

What’s different is the packaging. Each of us is conditioned to express ourselves in a specific way, which is highly shaped by our past, upbringing, experiences, and people in our lives. This individualized unique expression is gift wrapping paper – it comes in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and designs (just like humans, at the physical level at least). But tear away the layers and layers of gift wrapping and packaging and ultimately we all share a fundamental core spirit within. This may sound Vedantic, but this philosophy (for me) transcends religion and spirituality. It is the very essence of humanity, of what it means to be a living, breathing human being.


Very rarely, we take time to reflect on things we take for granted, especially at a physiological, mental, and emotional level as Homo sapiens. Our capacity to think and feel, to be rational or irrational, to act out or act in – these are all privileges given to the human species. Some may wonder whether these are privileges at all, as they can sometimes seem crippling when we lose control over them. There’s also the flip side that merely being given these sense faculties could result in the opposite problem of over-worrying, over-using, and over-indulging.

Regardless of where people lie on the scale of neurodivergence – or any scale for that matter – each of us is capable of empathizing with another, even if we may not share the same life experiences. It is a hard-wired human instinct that has survived across generations and centuries of evolution and survival of the fittest. There is a deep truth in finding what unites rather than what divides and separates us. In a world filled with as much negativity and hatred as today, there has never been a more appropriate time, not just to stand up and fight, but also to sit down and listen. And listening doesn’t just have to happen with the ears. It is a holistic somatic experience that triggers emotional responses and cultivates spiritual connection. In the years to come, I hope I am able to help make this world a little more pleasant, optimistic, and hopeful a place to live. Through listening. Through art. Through compassion and empathy.

With yet another year gone and the new year in its initial stages, here’s to composting the past, nurturing the present, and planting the future in 2018 and beyond.


A World of Contrasts

This world is a dichotomous one
Filled with contrasts.
Rich and poor,
Comfortable and uncomfortable,
White and black,
And all the colors in between.

Every moment of life is like crossing over the bridge between both ends;
Shifting from side to side, as if to balance a scale,
Along a continuum of diverse and unequivocal opposites.

I may associate myself more toward one side.
One end feels more comfortable, more familiar, more safe – whatever that means.
While the other breaks open my comfort zone in ways that I never expected.

Back to back, these experiences allow me to see the full potential
Of this universe,
Of those in this universe,
Traversing through the path of life
Like me but in their own unique ways.

This world is a dichotomous one
Filled with contrasts.
Rich and poor,
Comfortable and uncomfortable,
White and black,
And all the colors in between.

Open those eyes and be witness to the rainbow of possibilities.

Siem Reap, Cambodia – A journey into ancient spirituality

Southeast Asia is known for being a hotbed of sand, spices, and sushi. However, in this fertile land of culture, religion and spirituality too have grown and developed over the centuries, leading to the construction of the largest temple in the world. While Angkor Wat is the most popular temple, there are others in the surrounding complex that are well worth visiting as well (and come with the ticket price). Check out the top attractions in Siem Reap!

Angkor Wat

A majority Buddhist nation today, the Kingdom of Cambodia has traces of Hinduism in its past that arose primarily during the leadership of the Khmer Empire. In fact, Angkor Wat was originally constructed as a Vishnu temple by King Surya Varman II in the 12th century, and it was subsequently converted into a Buddhist temple. The royal family only went to the temple once or twice a month for prayers and ceremonies.

The temple structure is surrounded by a moat of water to protect against enemies and destruction. Angkor Wat represents the mystical mountain (Mount Meru), the center of all spiritual/cosmic forces in the universe and the gateway to heaven in Hinduism. As such, there are five gopurams (towers) for the main temple. During the 16th century, the Siamese invasion into and battles with the Khmer empire brought with it some destruction to Angkor Wat and surrounding temple structures. Though most of it is still intact, restoration to protect existing structures is well underway at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Definitely don’t miss the opportunity for a 5am sunrise visit to Angkor Wat. It is simply remarkable and an experience not to be missed when visiting this cradle of cultural and history.

Angkor Thom/Bayon

Just north of Angkor Wat temple is Angkor Thom, the capital city that was home to the Khmer local people. Bayon temple in Angkor Thom was built after Angkor Wat during King Jaya Varman’s reign. It is a Mahayana Buddhist temple with several large depictions of Buddha’s face all around. Unfortunately, this temple has undergone quite a bit of destruction compared to other temples in the complex but there is still a considerable amount to see.

Elephant Terrace

This is a nice open terrace which used to function as a viewing area in the Khmer empire. There are elephant carvings on parts of the structures from which the terrace derives its name. Mostly a set of ruins today, the trees overlaying the terrace provide a nice cool breeze that is much needed when visiting this region during the hot season.

Kulen Mountain/Phnom Kulen

Kulen Mountain or Phnom Kulen, about an hour drive from the town of Siem Reap, is home to many interesting attractions, including a large reclining Buddha temple, a waterfall, and a riverbed of 1,000 shivalingas. Located atop a hill, the Buddha temple (Preah Ang Thom) is very similar to Wat Pho temple in Bangkok Thailand, both of which represent the Buddha reclining in a state of nirvana. Preah Ang Thom is also a monastery where Buddhist rituals and ceremonies take place daily.

The 1,000 lingas relief (Kbal Spean) was built many centuries ago by King Surya Varman I’s minister and now lies below the Siem Reap River. Erosion has caused a considerable amount of damage to the lingas, many of which are small, but it is a rare and remarkable attraction to see in a majority Buddhist nation.

Banteay Srei Temple

Banteay Srei was built in the 10th century (before Angkor Wat) as a dedication to Lord Shiva. Made of a brilliant red sandstone, the structural carvings are filled with references to Hindu epics, such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. There are also scenes of Shiva and Parvathi that can be found on close examination.

Traditional Cambodian Dance

There are several places throughout Siem Reap that offer an opportunity for art lovers to catch a traditional Cambodian dance performance. We went for a dinner and dance combo at Kulen Restaurant, where the artists performed a mix of folk pieces and traditional classical dances (known as Apsara dance). The slow movements and costume (including elaborate headdress) of Apsara dance are very similar to Thai traditional dance, and performances typically feature live music accompaniment.

Doctor Strange: Marvel in Mystery, Magic, and Mysticism

Marvel Studios returns to the cinemas with their much awaited adventure film, featuring the ever-so-glamorous Benedict Cumberbatch in and as Doctor Strange. After experiencing a nearly fatal car accident and suffering severe forms of incurable nerve damage, Stephen Strange travels far and wide to receive tools for healing and training in the mystic arts from The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). As he develops his skills and talents in Kamar-Taj, Strange ultimately finds himself caught between returning to the comfort of his previous life and taking the path less traveled.


*Note: As someone who is not familiar with Marvel’s comic series of Doctor Strange, I write this review based solely on what was depicted in this feature film.

On that note, for someone who is entirely new to Marvel’s world of Doctor Strange, this film has a lot to take in. Integrating holistic Eastern and Western principles of health and medicine with philosophy and spirituality, this adventurous superhero flick is gripping right from the start. From the witty hilarious dialogues to the Matrix-like stunts and special effects, Doctor Strange commands and sustains the attention of viewers throughout its running time of 115 minutes.


An aspect of this film that I truly appreciated was the lack of cultural appropriation with which Asian philosophies and practices have been depicted and interwoven. We literally enter other worlds, or multiverses, ones where the concepts of physics, time, and gravity intersect with chakras, spirits, and astral bodies to create a forcefield of magic and energies that is only imaginable. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Framestore, Luma Pictures, Method Studios, Rise FX, Crafty Apes, and SPOV bring this supernatural imagination to life with their amazing visual effects in the film.


From a psychological perspective, what I particularly loved about Doctor Strange is how beautifully flawed and perfectly human each and every character is. It shows true strength and courage to admit and accept one’s past wrongs while working hard in the present to create a positive impact on the future. The traditional trope of overcoming arrogance in a magical and spiritual training arena is very much present and needed for egotistical Strange to accept and surrender in order to regain control. Needless to say, Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect choice to play Doctor Strange, coming across as a combination of haughty, curious, and creative. His chemistry with Wong (Benedict Wong) is simply fantastic, adding light humor to this action-packed adventure.


Final Verdict: Doctor Strange is a mind-blowing film where director Scott Derrickson and Marvel Studios take you on Strange’s journey of self-discovery through magic and mysticism. Stay till the end after the credits to check out Marvel’s sneak peak of what is to come!

Khoya: Loss, Belonging, Meaning

Khoya. Lost. The word lends itself to feelings of sadness and abandonment. Experience all these emotions and more in Sami Khan’s poignant drama Khoya, which follows the journey of Roger (Rupak Ginn) as he sets off from his hometown in Canada to find his birth family in India.


Khoya is a deeply evocative film that takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster with Roger through India. From encountering the consequences of corruption firsthand to traversing the road with nothing but the clothes on his back, Roger goes through significant trials and tribulations in his quest for family and belonging. As an audience member, I felt an immense amount of sympathy for Roger as he,a brown-skinned foreigner with a linguistic barrier, experiences in India for the first time. Issues of forged adoption papers and child trafficking bring in social messages about serious matters that are seldom spoken about but nevertheless plague the adoption industry worldwide.


Metaphors and symbolism are galore in this profound film, particularly with subtle subtextual references to different religious and spiritual traditions. The cinematography by Kevin Wong beautifully captures realistic imagery of India in ways that are unlike the colorful over-the-top visuals often portrayed onscreen in mainstream cinema.


There is a lot to unpack in Khoya, from Roger’s identity struggles as an Indo-Canadian unaware of his Indian roots to his feelings of shame about being adopted. The film’s pace is mellow and contemplative, seeming slow at times, but it intentionally flows with the protagonist’s internal struggles throughout his journey. Contributing to the reflective vibe of the film, there are minimum dialogues so much of the story moves forward in silence through body language. Needless to say, Rupak Ginn has done an excellent job essaying the role of Roger. The directorial technique of flashback to introduce bits and pieces of Roger’s past is an interesting touch that adds more dimension to this ruminative drama.


Final Verdict: Khoya is a film that requires more than 100% of your attention while watching. Because there is so much to absorb, a thorough understanding and analysis of the film can only emerge from multiple watches. Visually grey and hazy with thought-provoking and reflective content!

Venue: 3rd i South Asian Film Festival (San Francisco, CA)

Kabali: Power, Memories, Bloodshed

Kabali is one of the most awaited Tamil films of the year, and rightfully so, as it stars Kollywood’s very own evergreen superstar Rajinikanth. While the one-minute teaser for the film promises slick action interwoven with quintessential Rajini style and intriguing flashbacks, the film does not quite live up to the high expectations set by the teaser.

The basic premise of the movie revolves around a rivalry between two gangs in Malaysia: Gang 00, headed by Kabaleeswaran aka Kabali (Rajinikanth) and Gang 43 led by Tony Lee (Winston Chao) and his associates. Also entangled in the melee, among others, are Amir (John Vijay), Kumudhavalli (Radhika Apte), and Yogi (Dhansika).


Kabali has all the elements of a Rajinikanth movie-watching experience: style, sunglasses, and sick dialogues. From Kabaleeswaran’s impeccable dressing sense to his power-packed punches, the film flaunts all that comes with the star value and brand name of Rajinikanth. Unfortunately, there is not much else in this film.


Praveen K.L.’s editing is choppy, mismatched, and confusing, as some scenes seem awkwardly placed beside one another. Pa. Ranjith attempts to convey a narrative depicting the struggles of Tamilians in Malaysia but his underlying message and motivation are clouded by inconsistent direction and a confusing plot with little rationality (even for a masala Tamil Rajini film) and more resemblance to a biopic than a gangster-drama. At the same time, Kabali does have a lot of violence, which may make sense or be justified by the film’s title, another name for Lord Shiva, the Hindu god often associated with destruction.


We are introduced to the main protagonist, his past, present, and struggles mainly through flashback and memories, which are effective at times but redundant at others. The scene where Kabali walks through his home recalls memories with his wife in every room is beautiful and gives a glimpse into their relationship. Radhika Apte has essayed her role as Kumudhavalli elegantly, but her perpetual pregnancy during flashbacks is unrealistic. Unlike Kumudhavalli, Yogi is a female character who strays from the ideal heroine in Tamil cinema. She is fiercely protective, physically and mentally strong, yet aware of her emotions and desires, a combination of empowering traits that is seldom seen in female characters of Kollywood.


Despite its weaknesses, Kabali does have some strengths to its credit. The choreography for the song “Ulagam Oruvanukka” is unique and creative, as is Santosh Narayanan’s interesting background score accompanying the glamorous shots of Batu Caves and Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Needless to say, Rajinikanth has swag and rocks it immensely well in this film. But perhaps it may be time for the superstar to change his image and start doing more age-appropriate, character roles.


Final Verdict: Kabali is a somewhat underwhelming film with overly high expectations. It lacks a gripping storyline, unexpected plot twists, and slick direction, but it has the star value of superstar Rajini, intense, gory action and violence (definitely PG-13), and a great ending.

(Self) Forgiveness


Everyone makes them.

But people seldom forgive them.

Somehow we understand on a theoretical level that making mistakes is okay. It’s acceptable. In fact, it is the very thing that makes us human and we use that to justify those mistakes. Yet, once the deed is done, we rarely accept ourselves with those mistakes. More difficult than forgiving others for their mistakes is forgiving ourselves for our own.

Exercise self-compassion. Release self judgment. You deserve it. You owe it to yourself to not cause more pain than the mistake. Forgiveness is freedom. And freedom is awesome.


Indonesia Diaries: Top 10 Must-See Things in Bali!

My second week in Indonesia took me to the island of Bali, the Indonesian tourist hotspot known for its beautiful beaches, picturesque nature, and Hindu culture. From people with names like “Artha” and “Putra” to statues of Gatotgacha and Kumbakarna all over the island, Bali (in the words of my mother) felt like a journey back in time to ancient India with an Indonesian flavor! As expected there is a lot to do and see in Bali and while I covered quite a bit in my 4-day stay, there is still much to be explored.

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A few things to note:

  • Almost every attraction (including temples) has an entrance fee that usually ranges from Rp 10,000 to Rp 30,000
  • All temples require visitors to be dressed appropriately (i.e. skin covered below the knee – for both men and women). Most temples let visitors borrow sarongs for free (included as part of the entrance fee), while others may require an extra donation for sarongs.
  • Bali is extremely hot. Wear light clothing and comfortable shoes, stay hydrated, and apply sunscreen!

Without further ado, here are the top 10 must-see attractions in and fun facts about Bali!

  1. Tegallalang Rice Terrace

The staple food in almost all of Southeast Asia is rice. What is interesting and famous about the Tegallalang Rice Terrace is the cultivation and growth of rice in a multilevel fashion. This technique not only saves water but also provides a picturesque view of a productive agricultural process. The best view is from the main road across the rice terraces. The road is filled with markets, coffee shops, and painters inspired by nature to create works of art.

Tegallalang Rice Terrace

  1. Kintamani Volcano & Batur Lake

Kintamani is a small town located in central/somewhat northeastern Bali (see map below). While it is a bit of a trek from Ubud and the touristy beach areas in southern Bali, it’s definitely worth the 1.5 to 2-hour drive. For adventure junkies, there are options to hike up the active volcano. However, for those who are less inclined to climb, there are many restaurants with balconies along the main road offering fantastic views of the volcano and lake.

  1. Ubud Art Market

If you’ve been to outdoor markets in Phuket, this is a very similar setup, with small cobblestone pathways (for pedestrians and motorbikes only) lined with shops on both sides. Ubud Art Market has all types of products, from paintings and wooden carvings to sandals and batik clothing. You absolutely have to bargain with the shopkeepers, as they quote exorbitant prices. Typically, start the bargaining process by quoting 50% (or less) of the price they stated; eventually you and the shopkeeper will reach a compromise but it all depends on your persistence and bargaining skills! Shopaholics and tourists looking for nicknacks and souvenirs will love Ubud Art Market! Even if you’re not into shopping very much, stroll through the market to get a good idea of another aspect of Bali’s tourism industry.

  1. Coffee Plantation & Kopi Luwak

Bali, particularly the Kintamani area, is filled with coffee plantations that specialize in many variants of coffee. A particularly interesting type of coffee, called Kopi Luwak or Luwak Coffee, is very famous in Bali. Basically, a baby Luwak (Asian palm civet) is fed coffee beans, which go through the animal’s digestive tract and are ejected as feces. The seeds are then extracted, cleansed, and made into Luwak coffee powder. Supposedly, a reason for doing this is to remove any excess bacteria from the coffee beans before transforming them into coffee powder. Kopi Luwak is extremely expensive and being vegetarian, we didn’t taste it. At the end of the tour, Santi Coffee Plantation offered various teas, coffees, and chocolates to taste, with an extra fee to taste Kopi Luwak. Nevertheless, a coffee plantation tour is definitely recommended for tea and coffee lovers alike!

  1. Taman Ayun Temple

Located in the town of Mengwi, Taman Ayun Temple is a large complex consisting of temple structures in the middle and walking trails with small meditation huts all around. The main temple area is open only to devotees and closed to visitors but you can take a walk around the temple complex. Structured like a garden, Taman Ayun is one of the few temples with both open space and lots of greenery and trees. A beautiful spot for nature photo shoots!

  1. Padang Padang Beach

Known for its appearance in the film Eat, Pray, Love, Padang Padang Beach is one of the cleaner beaches in Bali that is filled with almost exclusively foreigners. Accessing this beach is a bit of a challenge – there is a narrow stairway path that has been carved through the rock cliff and as soon as you come out of it, you can see the pristine white sand and wide expanse of the clear blue ocean. In addition to picturesque nature, Padang Padang Beach is replete with beautiful men and women clad in swimsuits – a great place to spot eye candy!

Padang Padang Beach

  1. Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot is a cliffside temple with multiple shrines. Since it is a highly dangerous area and was high tide when we went, no one was allowed to go to the actual temple structure but depending on the time of day and tide, you may be allowed at the base of the structure. Tanah Lot gets very hot during the day so the best time to visit is early in the morning or late in the evening. The temple faces the west so sunset watching at Tanah Lot is definitely a must on the Bali bucket list!

  1. Krisna Souvenir Shop

Located in the capital city of Denpasar, Krisna is the best one-stop shop for all souvenirs and random nicknacks in Bali. While the quality of goods is not great here, all products are sold at local fixed prices so everything is extremely cheap. Things you find at Ubud Art Market might be seen here at half the price but remember that they may also be half the quality. Essentially, Krisna = Costco + Big Bazaar. Not necessarily an attraction but a must-see if you are on a tight budget or looking for cheap souvenirs in Bali!

  1. Watch a Balinese music/dance performance

What’s a trip to Bali without some cultural arts immersion! There are many opportunities to check out music and dance shows in Bali, especially in the Ubud area. Just like India has many different styles of dance, Bali too has various types, including Kecak, Barong, and Legong. The two shows we saw were Kecak and Fire Dance at Sahadewa Stage and Legong Dance at Taman Pura Saraswati. Both give different flavors of the cultural arts scene in Bali. Kecak and Fire Dance occurs everyday from 6:30-7:30pm at Sahadewa Stage, while Taman Pura Saraswati offers different performances on each night. Shows are generally ticketed and last about 60-90 minutes. For more details, check out my performance review of “Chandra Wirabhuana” at Taman Pura Saraswati!

  1. Pura Tirta Empul

This is a unique temple with a natural spring for devotees to engage in Hindu rituals and cleanse/purify themselves in the holy water. Apparently, Lord Indra created the spring to revive his forces when they were poisoned. Thus, it is believed that Tirta Empul has curative properties and is seen as a fountain of immortality. Since there is quite a bit of history associated with this temple, it would be good to get a guide when visiting this temple just to have an idea of the significance of the rituals the devotees engage in. We saw visitors wearing sarongs and getting into the spring, however it is best to confirm whether visitors are allowed to bathe in the water.

Pura Tirta Empul

As always, for all you Bollywood aficionados, here’s an extra tidbit I learned as I was departing from Bali:

  1. Bali has an Indian radio station.

On our way to the airport, our hotel driver showed us a channel on the radio that plays Bollywood music 24/7 in Bali. As we were exiting the van, the radio station was just starting to play the song “Gerua” from Dilwale! Our driver also mentioned that he saw the film 3 Idiots and really liked it!

Check back soon for more updates on my travels through Indonesia!

Performance Review: “Chandra Wirabhuana” Balinese Dance

On Saturday, January 16, 2016, I attended “Chandra Wirabhauana”, a traditional Balinese dance performance accompanied by live orchestra music. Set in the beautiful outdoor environment of Taman Pura Saraswati Temple’s Lotus Pond in Ubud, Bali, Chandra Wirabhuana was formed in 2000 and performs Balinese music and dance every week at the Lotus Pond. The orchestra consisted of 16 musicians playing a variety of instruments, including gamelan, flute, percussion, gong, and cymbals.

The show began with “Tabuh Liar Samas”, an instrumental piece whose composition was inspired by the beautiful beaches of Kuta in Southern Bali. This was followed by “Tari Penyambutan”, an introductory dance piece similar to a pushpanjali from Indian classical dance repertoire. The three graceful female dancers entered holding plates filled with flower offerings, which they later showered onto the audience.

Legong Dance

The third item was “Kebyar Duduk”, a powerful solo number characterized by dynamic hand and body gestures and sharp eye movements. The male dancer used a fan and flowing cloth from his outfit throughout the dance.

The fourth piece called “Legong Semarandhana” was in the Legong style of dance. It began with pure dance movements, followed by the Hindu tale of Manmatha and his wife Ratih. Manmatha and Ratih are sent to break Lord Shiva’s meditation and do so by striking him with an arrow. In the Balinese version of this tale, when Lord Shiva awakens, he opens his third eye and burns the couple to flames. In this dance, it was very interesting to see a slightly different version of a Hindu story portrayed in a unique style of dance.

“Oleg Tamulilingan”, the fifth item, was a duet describing the courtship between two bumblebees. Representing a Balinese love story, this piece was full of sringara abhinaya and was characterized by cute duet moments and poses.


Following the bumblebee courtship was “Topeng Tua”, or the Mask Dance. It is typically performed for religious functions and the dancer wearing the mask typically portrays demons or other evil spirits.


The performance ended with a vibrant number titled “Tari Satya Brasta”. It was based on an excerpt from the Mahabharata in which Karna fights and kills Gatotkacha on the Kurukshetra battlefield. The intricate formations and unique usage of props by all 6 male dancers in this piece was simply phenomenal!

There are many similarities between Balinese dance and styles of Indian classical dance. For example, Balinese dance has certain stances, as well as large, dynamic eye movements, that are similar to Kathakali and Mohiniattam. At the same time, the delicate hand gestures and soft footwork are reminiscent of Manipuri. It is evident that a lot of body control is required to master any style of Balinese dance, be it Legong or Kecak. The musical orchestra complemented the mood of all the dance pieces very well, exaggerating and subduing as appropriate to the story being told. The outdoor setting of Taman Pura Saraswati’s Lotus Pond, while prone to mother nature’s whims and fancies if it decides to rain, is absolutely beautiful, and allows visitors to watch a culturally rich performance beneath the moon and stars.

Definitely don’t miss out on this show if visiting Bali! Chandra Wirabhuana performs every Saturday at 7:30pm in Taman Pura Saraswati in Ubud, Bali. You will certainly be in for a treat!

Bajirao Mastani: Extravagant, Intense, and Powerful

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 RanveerPriyanka 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!