Historical Romance — Movie Review
Visually Stunning Bollywood Romance
With stunning sets, gorgeous costumes, and an outstanding soundtrack by the award-winning composer Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bajirao Mastani tells the tragic love story of the 18th-century Maratha general and prime minister (or Peshwa) Baji Rao I and his second wife, the Rajput princess Mastani. This film has all the makings of a cinematic masterpiece.
Although the film is brought to life with excellent performances by Ranveer Singh as Bajirao, Deepika Padukone as Mastani, and Priyanka Chopra as Kashibai (Bajirao’s first wife), in addition to an enthusiastic, convincing cast of supporting actors (and no small amount of political and familial infighting), there are some rough patches that cause this film to fall just short of classic masterpiece status.
Barring a few places that are enhanced by slightly cheesy CGI, the opening scenes of Bajirao Mastani do an excellent job at setting the stage for what is a fast-paced, action-packed romantic tragedy. I won’t spoil you with the details, but whether you’re new to the offerings of Bollywood or a longtime fan of Indian cinema, this is one film you don’t want to miss.
With Bhansali acting as composer, director, and producer, it’s no surprise that the song-and-dance scenes (each one beautifully choreographed against jaw-dropping gorgeous sets) are the greatest strength of the film, and they do much to carry the narrative to its inevitable conclusion. Unfortunately, as glorious as the song-and-dance scenes are, they mask some flaws in the overall composition of the film.
Particularly during the first half of the film, there are numerous scene transitions that left this viewer feeling like material was missing, perhaps left on the cutting room floor in an effort to keep the runtime (a decent 2:38, close to the standard for Bollywood films) down, or perhaps never filmed at all due to budget constraints.
Whatever the reason, with the film as fast-paced and action-filled as it is, these choppy transitions become more noticeable with repeat viewings, and left me with the impression that an additional 30 – 60 minutes worth of material could have turned this film from a great movie into a true masterpiece.