Irficionado | Movie Review / Rant | ‘Bajirao Mastani’

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I’m tired of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies.

I’m tired of top shots (I felt I was watching the Hindi version of ‘The Walk’), long shots (like at a tennis match), and drop shots (I don’t think there’s anything cinematically like this, but this phrase came up from those tennis court-like long shots).

I’m tired of sets that look like out of an art director’s dream – a wet dream.

I’m tired of heroines’ outfits looking like they weigh more than the heroine.

Tired of bling and attire having more sound effects than action sequences.

Tired of every film of his looking like it wants to best ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. (It’s like Ramu trying to make another ‘Aag’, gola, or whatever to amp ‘Sholay’.)

Tired of the stern-looking, usually widowed matriarch who is usually a middle-aged non-mainstream actress we haven’t seen in a while (Supriya Pathak in ‘Ram Leela’ and Tanvi Azmi here).

Tired of tragic endings that would do Guru Dutt proud. (Am guessing Bhansali himself has dreams – the same type above – over the tragedy guru.)

Tired of the hero overreaching (SRK in ‘Devdas’, Hrithik in ‘Guzaarish’, and Ranveer here).

Of heroine dance showdowns (Mads-Ash in ‘Devdas’, Chops-Deeps here, and Lolo-Mads in ‘DTPH’; I know, I know about the last, but maybe Bhansali was an AD on that movie?).

Of movies that aim to be visual and aural porn but leave a hole in the soul. (Since ‘Black’, all of Bhansali’s movie seem soulless.)

Seriously, Punekars and Marathi manoos elsewhere needn’t have lost their cool over ‘Pinga’, Mastani’s characterization (she apparently had a limp in real life and here she’s running through Mastani Mahal, with her kid, evading attackers, with swords), and other infractions in the movie: Bhansali’s botched it all up. Or hell, maybe they should get more irate?

Now, about the main actors…

Deepika Padukone smiling her trademark downward smile at an eventI’m tired of Deepika’s two expressions that she considers acting: the downward smile and the single-tone dialogue delivery (she sells soap and banking services with the same fervour). I don’t mind that Mastani looks more uncomfortable dancing to ‘Pinga’ than a giraffe stooping for a drink in Africa (she’s not a dancer, after all). But a Muslim warrior princess (yes, she’s half-Muslim but does read the namaaz and dresses like Meena Kumari in ‘Pakeezah’) not knowing her ‘ishq’ (she says ‘ishk’) and ‘khhata’ (khata)? Break her other leg too.

Priyanka Chopra with Pitbull in a shot from her music video 'Exotic'Since ‘Mary Kom’, Piggy Chops is using all her movies as showcases to impress Hollywoodites. (That’s why she’s acting in only author-backed or women-centric roles. But then, 30+ female actors in Bollywood do/end up doing that.) She gives a very hardworking performance here. But Madhuri as Chandramukhi in ‘Devdas’ was way better as the hurt woman.

Ranveer Singh in various looks from the movieRanveer Singh tries even harder – with his accent, his body, his eyes, his acting – but you feel he’s trying too hard and thence playing out of his league. You feel an older, more seasoned actor would have excelled in the role and taken the movie a few notches above the ground. (I’m thinking Hrithik – better body, better screen presence, and has played a chieftain earlier: Akbar.)

Bollywood director Sanjay Leela Bhansali at an eventWhich finally brings me to Bhansali himself. Who needs to learn that gorgeous outfits, lavish sets, and elaborate drama/action sequences do not a movie make. But I already ranted about those. The only saving grace then seems to be the music – ‘Albela Sajan’ is still ear-spinning. The third movie on the trot SLB has done the music for, and this one, the controversy notwithstanding, is ear-pleasant. But the rest of the movie, ah. Maybe music direction as the first career, Mr Bhansali?

To paraphrase what he intended as a killer catchline, “Bhansali ne iss movie ke saath ayaashi ki hai, mohabbat nahi…”




One thought on “Irficionado | Movie Review / Rant | ‘Bajirao Mastani’

  1. mallika says:

    Impressed by your poetic review..although I have not yet home through the banter. Yr review seems a savior.. N to all who care let’s have some meaningful cinema l….


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