Bajirao Mastani (2015)

Master story teller and aesthetic genius Sanjay Leela Bhansali finally presents his long nurtured dream on celluloid. For fans of the director, and the cast, the wait was worth it.

Bajirao is played surprisingly well by a solid Ranveer Singh, who has mastered the accent and developed a body language which is believable and appropriate. He balances being the deft leader of an army, a devoted family man and a doomed lover.

Mastani, a warrior princess, an ethereal beauty of Persian descent, who else could play it but the girl with the magical touch? She can do no wrong, and this time, Deepika Padukone mesmerises us with the grace of royalty and the fierceness of a soldier. A talented danseuse aside, she emotes mainly with her eyes, speaking volumes on love, strength and pain. Kashibai, full of dignity that befits the ‘First Lady’, has the trickiest role.

Priyanka Chopra has the edge of a senior artist and shows us another mastery of accent and gestures, the other side of the spectrum from ‘Quantico’. She has a tough act of balancing herself in the face of her husband’s new love and political turmoil, which she does with a stoic humility.

The director has used dialgoue sparingly in the film, as actions and ambience speak the unspoken. Great care is taken for no scene or emotion to be melodramatic. Instead they are understated to make a far greater impression.

Costumes by Anju Modi weave their own story, while the sets and the mood is earthy, opulent, muted yet grand. The Aaina Mahal will be remembered for the resonance with its historic counterpart and its spellbinding magnificence. Bhansali has stepped way out of his comfort zone with his colour pallette. His adept treatment of war, romance, drama and politics, and the music as well, makes him a complete director.

A supporting but stellar cast comprises of many members, but the one that shines the most is Tanvi Azmi, who plays Radhabai, Bajirao’s mother, who has an impact with just her presence. Her actions are pivotal and her acting is flawless. Milind Soman has a short but important role, with one influential speech which he delivers effectively. Mahesh Manjrekar, Aditya Pancholi, Vaibbhav Tatwawdi support the drama.

Undoubtedly this year’s best film, it ticks all the boxes. It’s not heart wrenching like Mughal-E-Azam, but will choke you for sure. To be enthralled by music, grandeur and emotion, witness a movie which recreates history to become part of it.

4/5

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Bobby Jasoos (2014)

Vidya Balan is back in many avatars to subtly amuse and investigate the going-ons in her neighbourhood. She is a budding detective, trying to get a decent case to make her independent and tickle her skills. Her accent is adorable and her antics unpredictable.

The strength of the film lies in its simplicity. It doesn’t pretend to be anything big or dramatic, it is sincere, funny, true to its socio-economic setting with characters we can relate to.

Bobby a.k.a. Bilquis is one of 3 sisters in a conservative Muslim family in Hyderabad. A boisterous rebel, she gets a mysterious case and takes us on a short 2 hour journey in the nooks and crannies of the old city area.

She is ably supported by a host of characters; Ali Fazal, Tanvi Azmi, Kiran Kumar, Arjun Bajwa, Zarina Wahab, Rajendra Gupta, Prasad Barve and Supriya Pathak as her ever understanding mother, quite a departure from ‘Dhankorbaa’ in Ram Leela.

Debut director Samar Shaikh presents us a refreshing story that entertains in an endearing way.

3/5