Sanjay Leela Bhansali
I paid to watch Bajirao Mastani today. Paid. I paid my hard-earned money. I did not wait for the pirated version to come out, for I thought Bajirao Mastani ought to be watched on the big screen.
This, after all, was supposed to be a magnum opus; a period drama that would stand the test of time; a welcome break from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas, movies that revolved around mush, chandeliers, mirrors, plenty of songs, women in colourful clothes, and extremely slow-paced storylines.
As expected, this was remarkably different, for this, was, well, mostly about mush, chandeliers, mirrors, plenty of songs, women in colourful clothes, and an extremely slow-paced storyline.
It could well have been another Devdas, for it even had a song (Pinga), featuring the two lead Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, one of the lead singers of the song being Shreya Ghoshal. The women were, of course, evenly matched, unlike dola re dola, where you had pitted a mannequin against a legend.
Fortunately for you, there was Tanvi Azmi to save the day. Someone had to stop Bajirao Mastani from being worse than Saawariya. Someone had to stop it from being your worst movie, and she did whatever she could, proving how underutilised she had been all these years.
You deserve credit for casting her, and I give you that. You also deserve full credits for reminding the world that Raza Murad still exists. Accolades should also go to Ranveer Singh, for he has surpassed himself in the movie (which is not saying a lot).
You know you are not Rajamouli. Nobody is Rajamouli. Good Indian period movies, especially ones involving battles, do not exist. Hence you decided to devote 20 minutes of your three-hour yawnathon to actual war.
The problem was, the protagonist was Bajirao, not Devdas: and though Bajirao was usually the master-planner, he often rode to War himself. We could have done with some of that. But then, I assumed too much. I thought you were actually working on something serious on Bajirao. How wrong I was.
I am aware that this is a romantic movie (after all, it is called Bajirao Mastani, not Bajirao). But then, the lead character is not Romeo or Majnu or (insert random romantic character). This is Bajirao we are talking about. The greatest of all Bhat Peshwas, Bajirao was, unfortunately for you, no ordinary character.
I will not bore you with facts about Bajirao. I’m sure your team had done a thorough research on one of India’s greatest sons. To make sure that nothing goes wrong, you have also put a facts-may-have-been-altered disclaimer in the beginning of the movie.
Now that I think of it, you had to put that disclaimer there. You would have been ripped apart by a lot of people for inaccuracy (why, even the descendants of Bajirao and Mastani have slammed you!), but I will not go into all that.
I will not go into the fact that Mastani went to war with her hair loose.
I will not go into the fact that Kashibai got to watch live telecast of Bajirao and Mastani in each other’s arms on a screen (after all, there is no proof that she didn’t) in the 1720s.
I will not go into the fact Bajirao has an inexplicable tendency to walk on water throughout the movie (something Kashibai picked up later).
I will not go into the fact that Kashibai displays her waist with aplomb, something unthinkable, given her social status, the era, and the family.
I will not go into the fact that Bajirao actually sang a song that went dushman ki dekho jo vaat laavli in the 1730s.
I will not go into the fact that Bajirao uses the dandpatta with the efficiency of a Jedi brandishing a lightsabre; he actually deflects about a hundred simultaneous arrows (or thereabouts) without a shield, for I know you had to match Star Wars.
I will not add to the Pinga controversy (Google it).
I will do nothing of the sort.
All I want to tell you that it is a terrible movie. Of course, you are free to make any movie. It was not your fault that I fell victim to the hype.
But here is a humble request: stick to Devdas. Leave our heroes alone.
Someone who still cares for Bollywood.
Watch Mughal-e-Azam if you have not. There is a reason people call it a wonderful movie.Watch Bahubali as well. It has its faults, but you may learn a thing or two on how to make movies on war heroes, real or otherwise.