Guide to watching Bajirao Mastani

I decided to take the film maker’s word for it and suspended disbelief as soon as he mentioned it was his interpretation. Instead of being nitpicky about whether or not the real characters behaved that way I allowed myself to be drawn into a world where every frame was picture perfect and a story that made an illicit affair sound cool with the line, “Mastani se aiyashi nahi, mohabbat ki hai!” Who cared what historians said when Bajirao said that dialogue. For many it was a pure “seeti bajao” moment and there are such moments aplenty.

It was a visual treat from the word go because instead of wondering whether or not zippers were invented during that period, I rejoiced in the gorgeous costumes that Mastani wore, the vibrant silks in every hue and the sensuous drape of Kashibai’s sarees. Mastani with her glorious mane flowing unkempt on a horse and while brandishing a sword is sheer magic. No one ever wondered why the Vikings never had crew cuts in battle then why should Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Mastani be subjected to this scrutiny?

But, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me begin at the beginning with Milin Soman. Despite the salt and pepper moustache, he is as dishy as ever. This movie makes you remember why you tried to catch the “Made in India” song every time it played on TV. Aditya Pancholi never had a trustworthy reputation or face. And casting him as a naysayer and enemy of the mighty Peshwa Bajirao was a perfect call. The rest of the cast is just as perfect.

Tanvi Azmi as Bajirao’s mother is impressive, especially in the scene where she tells the Peshwa that she is proud of a son who respects women, but she can’t let him follow his heart. Everyone went gaga over Ranveer Singh chopping of his locks to play Bajirao, nothing has been written about her going bald.

Vaibbhav Tatwawdi as Chimaji Appa is a delight. I loved him in Coffee ani Barach Kahi and as the Peshwa’s brother he has outdone himself! Even the tiger who fails to intimidate the Peshwa is spot on. Kudos to Sanjay Leela Bhansali got these awesome artists together for his magnum opus. Irfan Khan’s narration is gentle and not overpowering.

This movie is all heart. It brings back the romance of conveying love and desire with a look and a gesture. Bajirao beckons his Mastani while standing in a little pool and Kashibai seduces her husband in the same way as she realises he is falling in love with another woman. Priyanka’s dialogue as she talks about the love between Krishna and Rukmini is another one of those “seeti bajao” moments. The love triangle tugs every heartstring and he goes for your gut in the scene where Mastani protects her son by singlehandedly fending off the thugs sent by the Peshwa’s enemies. She looks like an avenging Goddess as the Ganpati Vandanam plays in the background.

It is a movie where Tanvi Azmi chants, “sharanye triyambike gauri” and Deepika prays with her arms outstretched. These little things somehow assume a significance in today’s “intolerant” climate. Especially the part where Mastani verbally rips the Brahmin to shreds with her take on the religious use of the colour saffron and green. These dialogues are going to stay with people for a while.

I just felt the ending could have been a bit tighter. The drama and theatrics would have held more punch if it had not been slowed down towards the end. I am not going to talk about the battle scenes because whether or not it was Bahubali-esque or like the TV Mahabharata doesn’t mattter. Ranveer Singh is ripped and looks ready to take on the world. Deepika is every inch the royal warrior princess and Priyanka is towering as the Peshwa’s legal wife.

It is a movie worth watching in the theatre. Go and revel in the sheer opulence of the sets, the drama and the love. Yes, love. It is a movie that will make every woman in the audience go weak in her knees as she imagines herself in Mastani’s place as her dream Bajirao adores her and longs for her.

P.S. Just realised I haven’t spoken about the songs — the ode to Mughal-e-azam and his Singhamish Vaat lavli. What can I say? There is no comparison to Madhubala and wondering whether the Peshwa used that kind of language is a small price to pay when you step into Bhansali’s dream world. Then there is the powerful Gajanana vandanam to make you forget all this and revel in the music as you get goosebumps watching Mastani wielding her sword!


3 things you should know about Tamasha

1. OMG Ranbir Kapoor

He is so cute. Matargashti is simply the best part of the movie. You should stop watching it right there. It doesn’t get any cuter or better than that!

2. Rahman repeating his scores is just sick

Mid-way through many of the songs you feel like you’ve heard that tune before. Will definitely try to get back with a definitive list after checking the songs again whenever I am in the mood for forgettable music.

3. To be or not to be bipolar is not a choice

I think the My choice video has gone to Imtiaz’s head. You can’t show someone with serious psychological problems getting fixed like that. It just messes up with our head. Get a grip on your characters man!

Movie: Angry Indian Goddesses is blah!

Angry Indian Goddesses starts with a bang. The first few scenes grab your attention but the rest of the movie simply fails to deliver. It’s like the makers thought: let’s make a list of what is wrong with Indian society or what is it like to be a woman in India. Their list goes something like this:

  1. Eve teasing and molestation
  2. Slut shaming
  3. Discrimination in the workplace
  4. Objectification
  5. Frustrated marital life
  6. Guilt of being a working mother
  7. Increase in rape cases
  8. Victim blaming after rape
  9. Women have sexual fantasies too (just FYI)
  10. Section 377 (so lesbians can’t marry)
  11. Overly concerned boyfriends
  12. Objectification of men by women (reverse eve teasing)
  13. Lesbians being disowned by parents
  14. Obsession with fairness creams
  15. Trouble with in-law

Then they decided to write a few scenes around these issues. Then they assembled a cast and shot a ton of stuff. And at the edit they decided what to keep made a hash of it! So with actors like Sandhya and Anushka they could have had a mind blowing screenplay that would have nailed it if only they would have stayed true to character. Every character behaves in ways that you can never reconcile their actions to your perception. The only good thing is that they talk like women talk in real life. So the dialogues are cool.

And the direction is totally weird — they oscillated wildly between melodramatic and symbolic, which by the way was a total bouncer as we say it — what was that butterfly scene all about? If you watch it let me know. And what’s with censoring only the cuss words but wiping out pictures of goddesses from the screen. Yes! The screen is actually blurry in places.

All in law, if you want to know what real women talk like, watch this movie, just don’t expect to leave the hall with anything other than a mild sense of regret for having chosen to spend your time in this way because it fails to evoke any response. I can’t help wish the first scenes were the last part of the story and the rest was a flashback (with a different story) leading upto the first scene.


Nunism: Heaven is not up, it is under the ground!

So Nuni declared that heaven is not up but underground. When I asked her why, she thought about it for a couple of seconds. First she said that rockets go to outer space so maybe heaven is there. Then she thought a few seconds more and explained it away like this:

When a plane goes up in space we can see the clouds but no heaven. But, zombies are normal people who die and rise up from the ground and they came up in a different form. The others who die and are buried, stay there in heaven.

Just to be clear:

The good people get to stay in heaven and get to do fun stuff. The others who do bad things come back in weird skin forms (their souls get these weird skins) when they come up as zombies.