Posts Tagged ‘ Sanjay Leela Bhansali ’

Bajirao Mastani

Bajirao-Mastani-poster

Bajirao Mastani
Release date: December 18, 2015
Directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Milind Soman, Aditya Pancholi, Mahesh Manjrekar, Priyanka Chopra, Tanvi Azmi, Deepika Padukone, Vaibbhav Tatwawdi

Newspaper gossip columns and bytes from the “entertainment” industry have a way of finding ways into our lives, how much ever we may resist their passive charms. There have been colored headlines talking about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ambitions of making a magnum opus on the relationship between Bajirao Ballal Bhat and his wives Kashi Bai and Mastani. After publicly confessing of giving up on this project, Bhansali creates, right from his first scene of the film, a masterful universe from the eighteenth century.

The opening sequence is an open court where the appointment of a new Peshwa is in order. The Chhatrapati (Mahesh Manjrekar) indulges his political adviser (Aditya Pancholi) and his war-chief (Milind Soman) over their debate of who should be elected. Without song and dance, and armed with only a thumping and catchy background score and his sword, emerges Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) with a freshly buzzed head and a mouth full of memorable lines. His instant wit, will and skill seal the deal for him, and the decision is accepted with a warm ovation. Mr. Bhansali takes a detour from his usual ways and gets his film running at a good pace right from the start.

Bajirao leads his battalion to a smart victory in his first battle, proving his mettle to one and all. While he carried on with his conquers, his younger brother Chimaji Appa (Vaibbhav Tatwawadi) creates a new rambunctious home to complement Bajirao’s laurels. The home and the Aainaa Mahal are marvels of wonder, almost worth the price of the ticket just by themselves. Kashi (Priyanka Chopra) garnishes and adorns it with her conceding love and admiration for her husband. The two of them have a delicately playful and intimate relationship which is faced by the attractions of Mastani (Deepika Padukone), the love child of a Rajput King and his Muslim wife.

Mastani is the princess of Bundelkhand, out to seek the help of the brave Maratha warrior to fend off the claws of the Mughals. She can fight, and do Kathak, and elude swords with swords of her own. Her introduction to the dynamic brings the conflict along with it. A Muslim second wife cannot be accepted in a kingdom based on establishing a Hindu state. The Brahmins of Pune and Bajirao’s mother (Tanvi Azmi) along with Chimaji stand together in opposition of his union with Mastani. The entire drama between the wives, Kashi and Mastani, is handled with grace and tact.

Wars are shot in magnanimous scale, moments of passion between Bajirao and Kashi with warm diffusion, yet there’s an old school approach of keeping the second wife Mastani physically disconnected with her lover and just an amount of “obsessive” platonic love between them. Perhaps, to stay safe from more allegations and stupid “my sentiments are hurt” litigation suits against the film. If you’re denied of watching this film by the way of a protest against the film, then it’s just your bad luck.

Yes, there are cinematic liberties and a fair disclaimer before the film begins. There’s a Dil Dola like number where Kashi and Mastani dance to their heart’s content with the poetic undertone of being involved in a Rukmini-Krishna-Radha love triangle. Bajirao stomps and swirls in a shoddily-penned war celebration song. But then, Bhansali compensates for these excesses by giving us powerful exchanges between the protagonists and lines of dialogue that will be remembered for quite some time in the near future.

The beauty of it all is all-encompassing with the film’s cinematographer, Sudeep Chatterjee’s lens captures Bhansali’s vision immaculately. The color palette isn’t as diverse as that of Ram-Leela (2013), but the limited number of permutations and combinations are put to use smartly. Be it the rain in the times of war-cries, the golden glow on Mastani, or the earthy shades around Kashi, they all add to the mise en scene in more ways than one.

Ranveer Singh ascends to new heights of stardom with his all guns blazing display, with his impassionate Marathi diction and the swashbuckling flamboyance of a great mass-leader. His character is the center of the attraction for the two women, and the actor himself is the center of the movie. He holds the film strongly with good supporting actors subordinating the ranks beneath him. Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone’s characters are treated with equal importance, the way Bhansali did back in 2002 in Devdas. Chopra infuses a strong energy with her spirited Kashi Bai, Padukone is the glum, poetry-quoting, wronged lover to the hilt.

Bajirao Mastani is dramatic, and it’s poised. It’s majestic and it’s cruel. It is, undoubtedly, the film to watch this weekend.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5)

Ram-Leela

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Ram-Leela (Goliyon ki Raas Leela: Ram-Leela)
Release date: November 15, 2013
Directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Supriya Pathak, Abhimanyu Singh, Gulshan Devaiah, Sharad Kelkar, Richa Chadda, Barkha Bisht, and Raza Murad! (though only in a cameo)

Goliyon ko Raas Leela, which translates to a fair of bullets — holds true for a major part of the film, there are bullets being shot absolutely no reason. In my estimate, more random birds in the air must have been killed with guns than actual people. And that’s some figure, given the strong mafioso orientation of the film’s characters.

Ram (Ranveer Singh) is the comparably non-violent black sheep of a strongly violent Rajadi family, he runs neon-lit shady video parlors in a fictional village of Gujarat. Promenading through the small nooks, he dances with his roaring 6 (or 8?) pack abs, doing pelvic thrusts and never hiding his overt sexuality. This sexuality forms the bond between the rival Saneda’s wildly swaying daughter, Leela (Deepika Padukone)

LAHU MUH LAG GAYAAAA deepika-padukone-looking-ranveer-singh-still-from-film-ram-leela

Lahu Muh lag gayaaaaa 2
In a setting taken from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Ram-Leela’s first meeting is passionately raw and extremely, er, hot! A blood-soaked kiss (not down there) is just the start for this combustible couple. They incessantly text each other, exchange cheesy conversations just like any other contemporary new couple would. They click umpteen selfies and even talk about posting them on Twitter, only if they’d dropped an Instagram reference…

The love affair is everything right with the film. The drama surrounding them? Not quite. There are three dance numbers in the first half, making you wish for the interval to arrive at many points, but it doesn’t. Two more in the post-intermission part, testing your conviction and commitment to the film. Support characters like the two respective sister-in-laws Rassela played by Richa Chadda and Kesar done by Barkha Bisht, have more than one dimension to them, thus helping for a stronger depth. They aren’t the cruel bhabhis of our love stories, they are intelligent and somewhat righteous.

The men, on the other hand, are simply high on testosterone, and their lives are also shortened. Gulshan Devaiah’s Bhavani is the only male character with more to do, yet there isn’t much writing in his evil intentions. Writing, perhaps is the weakest department here. The raunchy jokes in the first half get increasingly boring (for me at least) owing to their lack of originality. Even strong players like Dhankor (Supriya Pathak) has so little rationale to the choices that she makes and the cold-heartedness that she portrays. The former jokes do help in lightening the subsequent grim climax though.

The violence isn’t in action as much as it is in its loudness. There isn’t much gore or blood, even if there are some real nasty things going on. Bhansali and his cinematographer S. Ravi Varman use masterful shots to make you feel the violence by minimalistic actual violence. They also paint greatly vivid pictures by using a diverse color pattern with their lighting. The rumored extensively long shooting schedule of 200 days seems justified by the production design, costumes and locations. Unfortunately, the same amount of detail is missing from the screenplay.

The music evolves with the growth of our protagonists’ characters. From the thrust-banging of Tattad Tattad to Ang Lagaa De‘s sensual ‘lovemaking’, it just suits perfectly. Hallelujah, Priyanka Chopra have some mercy on us! The picturization length could have been shortened in the synchronized dancing part which would have also helped reducing the film’s mammoth of a runtime. The end may put you off, probably due to its recent presence in so many films off late. It’s not repetitive, but rather a bit illogical. There’s storytelling logic missing in a few more places as well, and I better leave them unexposed as they might give away more of the plot.

Ranveer and Deepika look their parts and make you wish you were a part of the Ram-Leela universe, and maybe steal away either of them or both depending on your sexual preferences. Deepika’s every hip snap gets you swooning, turning up in your seat. Their kisses (probably chopped) are involving and tempt you for their next liplock. The Gujarati accent is present and its done well. It interferes with authenticity with the infused Hindi and that’s a personal grouse.

The actors, production designers and everyone except the writers and sound recordists/mixers/engineers try their best. Underwhelming to an extent, surprisingly entertaining even with the heavy end, Ram-Leela is just in the middle. Hey, Raza Murad’s back too!

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Rowdy Rathore Review


Rowdy Rathore
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Directed by: Prabhu Deva
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Paresh Ganatra,  Yashpal Sharma, Gurdeep Kohli.

The only way I could do justice to the film is by writing my review in rainbow colored font accompanied by jarring underlying sounds that could potentially cause bleeding from your ears. A mishmash collection of things from the ’90s that you’d like to forget (yes, a never-ending Kumar Sanu wedding song) along with a lofty, uninspiring plot is what this film is.

I’m trying to figure out what actually happened during the production meetings held between the makers.

Suit 1: Prabhu Deva sir, we all liked Wanted very much. Any chance of doing something similar with a different actor?
Suit 2: (Interferes) Everyone liked Singham as well, hope you can possibly incorporate some stuff from that.
Prabhu Deva: It must be in Hindi, right?
Suits unanimously: Yes, why else will we even convene a meeting!
Prabhu: Alright, I’m gonna take this film more down-South. We’ll have a lot of belly-button fixated shots. Long shots, close-ups. Doesn’t matter. But lots of stomach. Stomach is the new cleavage.
Suit 1: What about item numbers? Do you know any inexpensive alternatives to the mainstream heroines for that?
Prabhu: Reality show winner? Okay? Will add to the mass appeal.
Suit 2: Anything you say, sir. Keep it austere.
Prabhu: Fixed then. Let’s flip a coin now.
Suit 1: Sir, flipping the coin for deciding the tone of the film, or the cast?
Prabhu: What are you high on? I meant to do that about the script.
Suit 2: Oh, never mind, sir. We’ll just flip the coin about everything. So, when do I send over the check?
Prabhu: Let’s flip a coin for that as well.
Suits collectively laugh and walk into the sunset.

If you don’t get any of that, I’ll sum it up. The first half is as terrible as watching a cat trying to brush its teeth. The second half is your any South Indian masala movie-catalyzed with some 90’s moronic Bollywood trash. There are a few laughs & a rare item number with THREE superbly moving women (special mention to them, Mumaith Khan, Shakti Mohan and Maryam Zakaria) none of the performances are unforgettable. Entertaining in bits and pieces.

My rating: ** (2 out of 5) 

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