Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Tanvi Azmi
is a truly cinematic experience. The film is based on a book about the real-life warrior king Peshwa Bajirao, although a disclaimer at the start warns that the story has been dramatised for the big screen.
Peshwa Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) is a relentless warrior on a mission to fight the Mughals and create a unified Hindu kingdom. He is married to Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra), but after fighting a war in Bundelkhand, he falls in love with the king's daughter, Mastani (Deepika Padukone), whose mother is Muslim.
She is never accepted by Bajirao's family, especially his stubborn (and often scary) mother, Radhabai, played to perfection by Tanvi Azmi, and is kept away from Shaniwar Wada, the palace where the Peshwas lived.
is Bhansali's first historical drama, and he has spared no expense in recreating the grandeur of the age on-screen. From the ethereal Aaina Mahal (mirror palace), Kashibai's chambers in Shaniwar Wada and the court of Chhatrasal Shahu (played by Mahesh Manjrekar) to the lyrical dialogue, beautifully elaborate costumes by designer Anju Modi and custom-designed jewels - a lot of attention has been paid to the details in this magnum opus.
This is the biggest highlight of the film - the opulence, and perfection in every aspect of production. The cinematography is stunning. The special effects might not be on a par with
, but are still very good.
Don't go in expecting a great story, but be prepared to be wowed by the stars. Singh does an excellent job portraying Bajirao - down to his near-perfect Marathi accent. His portrayal of the warrior king as a passionate and stubborn man caught between two women is one of his best performances to date.
Padukone makes for a beautiful, ethereal princess, who even with minimal make-up and jewels looks the part. The real-life couple's chemistry is clear on the screen.
It is surprising that Chopra did not play a bigger part in the pre-release publicity for the film, because she is as much the leading lady as Padukone. She shines in her restrained portrayal of Kashibai, and some of the best moments in the film feature her and Azmi.
The film does drag a little, but the opulence makes it all worthwhile.