Historical Inaccuracies Aside, ‘Tanhaji’ Is Visually Stunning
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior - yet another film to tell us that the Marathas were great! Obviously we can’t hold it against them, can we? Ajay Devgn’s 100th film sees him essaying the role of the brave Maratha warrior Tanhaji Malusare, one of the closest aides of Shivaji Maharaj. The Kondhana fort was of strategic importance for the then Mughal ruler to fortify his hold on the southern base of India. Shivaji Maharaj sent Tanhaji to capture it and Aurangzeb sent Udaybhan Rathore aka Saif Ali Khan to defend the fortress. On the big screen we see Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan battle it out in 3-D!
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Also, this is another period drama that doesn’t vouch for its historical accuracy, so never mind that it’s the 17th century and the “idea of India “is still in its embryonic stage.” Tanhaji, our fierce and always-battle-ready warrior, wants to sacrifice everything for Swaraj and Bhagwa - the two things he keeps mentioning time and again.
“Aurangzeb ne Hindu ko Hindu se bhidaya (Aurangzeb has pitted Hindus against Hindus)” says our narrator, and thus while the battle is between the brave Maratha and a loyal Hindu aide of the Mughal ruler the depiction and its visual representation is always clearly “us versus the barbaric other.” Tanhaji is a loving husband and father, a faithful soldier, prays to the lord and saffron is his favourite colour. Udaybhan is all about maniacal rage, arbitrary killings, and is painted in hues of black. Saif very clearly channels his inner Ranveer Singh inspired Khilji-ness. There is a scene where Saif even dances to a rousing number, and one simply can’t ignore the similarities .
But If we make our peace with the creative liberties and some not-so-well hidden biases and prejudices, Tanhaji is actually visually stunning. Director Om Raut, who has also written it along with Prakash Kapadia, vociferously hold on to the narrative as we get ready for the epic battle of Sinhagad. The masterfully choreographed battle sequences against a stirring background score is hugely impactful. Keiko Nakahara’s camera luxuriates the lavish frames with resplendent colors and a grandness of vision that compliments this legendary tale of bravery.
It also helps that both Ajay and Saif imbue their roles with the necessary vigour, so we can suspend our disbelief as they collide head on a number of times! Their compelling portrayal, despite coming across as slightly exaggerated, is arresting enough for us to sit through this extravaganza.
As is the case with Sharad Kelkar and Luke Kenny, who play Shivaji Maharaj and Aurangzeb respectively. However, their casting and on-screen demeanour is so perfect that they most definitely are welcome additions .
Tanhaji’s story is part of a folklore and it’s cinematic re-telling is hugely enjoyable . Historical inconsistencies aside, go watch it particularly for the carefully crafted action sequences in 3-D .
Our rating: 3 quints out of 5!