After ten years of waiting, Sanjay Leela Bhansali arrives with his magnum opus Bajirao Mastani. According to the book of N.S. Inamdar Rau king Marathi Bajirao (Ranveer Singh) has an affair with the Muslim warrior princess Mastani (Deepika Padukone), although he is married to Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra). In the land of Bhansali love brings not only joy, but also pain and desire. In his early films such as Hum Dil De Chuk Sanam, Devdas, Saawariya, Ram Leela and also in Bajirao Mastani love brings joy, sadness, fear and sorrow. It’s the story of an ishka that even makes you forget God in front of a lover. Ishq-jo mehboob ko dekhe toh khuda ko bhool jaaye, vo ishq. Love is like a scar, ugly and forbidden in the eyes of society, but permanent, that will stand the test of time and become immortal in the annals of history. At one point Mastani jokes with Bajirao by putting his sword around his neck, and this scar is then engraved on him forever. She was then wounded by Bajirao in the war with his sword. Aapne to siru apne where ka nishaan dekha hai, gaav to kahi aur hai. They literally and figuratively mark a life of love.

The film is in many ways the story of Radha, Krishna and Rukmini. In the world of Bhansali, Bajirao and Mastani are Krishna and Radha. The film is full of allusions to these characters. says Mastani: Patni – Radha bhi nahi ti, lekin name – Krishna ke saat unhi ka liya jata hai na. While they’re celebrating Holi, Mastani sings: Mohe called do laal, Nand ke laal, and asked Nand Ke Krishna to paint him the colour of love – red. While Pinga, when Mastani arrives to meet Kashibai, the subtitle says she comes dressed as Radha, which gives another clue to the Radha-Krishna theme. One of my favourite scenes from Lagaan is Janmasthmi, where Elizabeth asks Bhuvan if Radha and Krishna were married. Bhuvan replies that Krishna was married to Rukmini and Radha to Anai, but that they had this inner love that transcends generations. Kamal ke patte pe, shabnam ki boond jaisa. Ek bhi nahi hue aur alag bhi nahi hue. It was the first time I knew the name of Krishna’s wife and, more importantly, the name of Radha’s husband. Radha-Krishna has always been the embodiment of pure love. While Anai seems to be definitively excluded from the annals of mythology, Rukmini occasionally finds a mention. Starring Bajirao and Mastani as Krishna and Radha, the film pays tribute to Rukmini’s silent and almost forgotten love in the form of Kashibai. Kashibai tells the story of Rukmini’s fear of oblivion. Log for prijasi ko hai yaad hit hain. Even though the film is based on Bajirao and Mastani, the love of Kashibai is recognized, even if it takes some of the shine out of the story of the main film, I think it is important to give it credit because a film based on the theme of love should be gracious enough to accept all kinds of love, or at least not to be contemptuous. The jewel in Kiran Nagarkar’s book The Cuckold, based on the prediction of Meerabaya’s husband whose wife is in love with Lord Krishna, says that you can expel the devil, but how you can get rid of God. There’s a line in this book. We were the rarest couples. Even after years of marriage, we were madly in love. I’m with her and she’s with someone else. This is Kashibai.

In a way, Bajirao Mastani also represents the seven stages of love as defined in Arabic literature. The seven stages are: hub (attraction), infatuation (love), ishq (love), aqidat (worship), ibadat (worship), yunun (possession) and maut (death). We see these steps in one form or another. Bajirao and Mastani first came together in the middle of the war. Behoshi me bhi monkey unse aise lipti hui thi, jaise do nahi ek ho. Then there is the fascination when he visits her in her room and gives her his dagger after seeing her deep wounds. They’re celebrating Holi. She tells him to paint the color of love. This crush turns into love when he’s about to leave. Then she leaves Bundelkhand to meet Ishq. His love for him is like Radha’s love for Krishna… Patni to Radha bhi nahi ti, lekin name to Krishna ke saat unhi ka liya jata hai na. Amazement turns into admiration. Tujee yaaad kar liya hai, aayat ki tara, kaayam tu ho-gee hai, rivaayat ki tara. I remembered you as an ayat, a holy prayer. They’ve become a habit and a ritual for me. They both begin to trust and respect each other; he will fight for his respect, even if it means going against the world, he will go against his family to protect their honor. This one is slowly becoming an ibadat. Aaj ibaadat roobaroo ho gayi, jo maangi thi dua se guftgoo ho gayi. The one I loved and prayed for, today I stood face to face with her. What I wished for, I talked to him. Slowly this ibadat becomes an obsession with her. She can’t live without him, and he can’t live without her. Humare dil ek saath dhadh hai aur tug bhi ek saath. He’d give anything for her and she’d do anything to be with him. They lose their identity. In the last phase the young Bajirao becomes a hallucination in which he sees a conspiracy of destiny and providence against him and Mastani. He’s fighting an imaginary war with his faceless inner demons. Death is the only way out of this madness, and it comes to them at the same time. The final phase of love has been reached, and they are immortal for the years to come, and each will bear his name as one. They were connected forever.

The film shows the glorious traditions of the past in a spectacular way. When Bajirao gives the dagger to Mastani, she becomes his wife, because giving a cataract to a woman also meant marriage in Bundelkhand. Later, when Bajirao arrives at Mastani’s house after crossing the river, he talks about the three challenges she might face if he accepts them. Mastani, without hesitation, says kubul hai. In an Islamic marriage the bride says kubul hai three times; in a way it was the second time they married. In both cases there was no great ceremony, and their marriage was solemn according to tradition and custom. In the beginning Bajirao speaks about the creation of a Hindu kingdom, which indicates his Hindu nationalistic feelings. If the film has a tradition, it also surprises with its liberalism. Mastani worships both Krishna and Allah. Although she is Muslim, she calls her child Krishna. Yeh sach hai har dharm ne ek called ko chun liya hai, lekin called ka to koi dharm nahi hota. Durga and Darga belong to different religions, but at the same time the same green colour is important for both. Bajirao says that although he fights against the Muslims, his fight is against the Mughals, not against their religion. When fundamentalist priests refuse to call their son Krishna because they accuse him of not marrying a woman according to Hindu rituals, he calls his son Shamsher Bahadur, which is contrary to tradition. He teaches his sons the shlokas. Instead of submitting to dogmatic rituals, he reinterprets them, like his sincere reaction to his heartless mother – which prevents her own grandson from accepting her blessings – that he will return the favor by solemnly marrying Mastani and taking him to Shaniwar Vada. Earlier this year there was a revealing scene in Dil Dhadhakne Do by Zoya Akhtar. Ranveer Singh also plays in this film; at one point he tells his parents that he loves Farah. For dancer hai, aur musalman hai. Religion remains one of the deepest flaws in our society, hiding the same religious differences in a past film almost three hundred years later on the set of a top-notch tony film in Delhi. In this political climate in which we talk about ghar waapsi, it is comforting to see that the film clings to its liberalism.

Each film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a study of symbolism. The sets and costumes represent the characters and their emotions. Chiteh ki chaal, baaz ki nazar aur Bajirao ki talwar par sandeh nahi karte, kabhi bhi maat de saqti hai. That’s why images and images of cheetahs and baaz can be found everywhere. When Bajirao is in his camp, there are bronze figures carved from an eagle and a cheetah. The map and the flag of the kingdom show an eagle and a cheetah. Shaniwar Wada has the same pictures and images in his room. Even Bajirao’s dagger, which he gives to Mastani, has a cheetah at the end. This reinforces the idea that Bajirao not only knew how to fight with a sword, but that he also possessed two other qualities: an amazing talent and a penetrating vision. If Bajirao was a cheetah, Mastani was a jungle lioness. When the lioness gives birth, there are no midwives or nurses; Mastani also needs no help and gives birth to her son without the services of a midwife.

On the map you see a cheetah and a baaz.

The costumes also taught us something about the characters. Mastani is always dressed in lighter colours, with the exception of red. All his suits had a monochrome colour palette and lighter shades. Whether it is the song of Deewani Mastani, the blue fiefdoms, the yellow fiefdoms, the white fiefdoms, everything seems to be in lighter shades and there are no contrasting colours. On the other hand, the saris of Kashibai are full of dark colors, and they are not monochrome, but have many, many colors, such as the contrast of purple, blue, yellow, and are much lighter than those of Mastani. It talks about the many worldly emotions of love, happiness, joy, fear of Kashibai, while Mastani is only interested in one emotion of love, and red means love.

In another moment Kashibai tells Bajirao not to go to her room anymore, she tries to set the diyi on fire. She can’t reach the heights, so Bajirao takes a stick and puts her down, just like her relationship, which seems to go his way.

In Bundelkhand, when Bajirao has to leave the next day, Mastani comes to see him in the middle of the night and gives him a paan. When Mastani arrives in Shanivar Vada after singing Diwani Mastani, Bajirao greets her with a paan. The betel leaf has long been part of the Hindustani tradition, it is even depicted in some miniature paintings on which Krishna offers the paan beta to Radha. There’s something amorous about giving a heart-shaped leaf to your lover; maybe that’s why paan is always romanticized in movies. Later Kashibai also gives paan to Bajirao when he visits her and she tells him that she is pregnant. The way she gave him the paan indicates that she saw him give the paan to Mastani. He thinks she doesn’t know anything, but she’s smart and intuitive. She says: Yeh chaand bhi na kabhi is badli ke peeche, kabhi our badli ke peeche, in reference to the moon in Bajirao’s hidden relationship with Mastani.

One of my favorite scenes in the film is one in which Kashibai’s mother and Bajirao’s mother sew a flag and talk about their likeness. Kashibai says that she has been Bajirao’s gauntlet all these years and that by not telling him, he has fallen into darkness. In the darkness there are no shadows, so they have their own existence. In this scene we see her image in the mirror of the box next to her. It is a beautiful scene, and its image is clearly visible, even in the darkness of the room. The image is a classic Bhansali film. In a large scene in Savaria the image of Sakina is projected in mirrors. In the Goliyon the statue of Ki Raas Leela Ram-Leela can be seen in the mirror. At the beginning of the film we see Mastani holding a rose in front of a mirror. One of the most aesthetic scenes in the film shows an image of Bajirao projected on a mirror. Maa Saheb then compares his life with that of the mango tree; although the mango tree is the king of the fruits, he should carry most of the stones. Maybe Maa Saheb was referring to her own husband’s infidelity when she was alive, or maybe she misses her husband’s presence in her life and can understand Kashi’s plight. They bonded by sewing together the saffron – the flag of their kingdom – as if they were bound by tradition, and their powerlessness would change the nature of their relationship. In doing so, they sew the connection together. In Saavariya, Sakina was weaving carpets. One greets the other and lays the best carpet. Sakina kept waiting for Imaan, who wove her best bald woman into her heart to greet him. Here we see two women talking about their relationship while stitching the flag.

For Bajirao and Mastani, love is a constant state of intoxication. Mastani’s eyes shine with love for Bajirao; from the moment she falls in love with Bajirao until the end her eyes seem to be watery, as if she has been intoxicated by love. Bajirao is in love with her too. At some point he even says Kaun our me nahi hai? Hum sab nashe me hai. Bajirao’s eyes could see the blood red lining. Their love is so strong that it flows through his body like blood. He can’t exist without her, and neither can she. No human can survive without blood. The red color Mastani symbolizes is deeply rooted in his veins. On the cover poster you’ll see that the red one is Bajirao’s name.

Nature and its elements are an essential part of Bhansali’s work. In Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Nandini is portrayed as Manmohini Tera Ada’s best creation of nature. Tujh me hai kudrat saree khoyee. In black, Michelle McNally’s first words are not mother or father, but water. It was her new birth when she was immersed in the well water. In the Bajirao Mastani, nature is also a fully-fledged character. The sky changes color depending on the mood. When Mastani Mohe Rang Do Laal sings with his generous hands, the sky turns red. When Mastani first meets Kashibai, the sky seems to change colour from grey to red. When it’s dead, it rains like heaven is crying.

Water also plays an important role in the life of Bajirao. He crosses the river, in the middle of a stormy night, to meet Mastani. We often see him walking on the water. When he calls the Nizam, he walks on the water. When he visits Mastani, he stands in the water, surrounded by beautiful fountains, and invites him to join him. Later Kashibai invites him to go into the water, but there is no fountain, because the Fountain of Love is now for Mastani. In the last scene Death joins Bajirao in the water. Perhaps the water represents the purity of his thoughts, actions, intentions and love. In black, water stands for purity and clarity of thought, which helps Michelle realize that words are important. And in this film, the fountain played an important role. Michelle says her first word in Michelle’s water by the well; eventually Debraj also learns her first word in Michelle’s water by the well. The beautiful poster of the film shows Bajirao and Mastani standing in the water, surrounded by lotus flowers, with small streams of water under and behind them. They hold hands; perhaps their love is like the fountain itself that sustains them as the source of life.

If there’s air and water, the fire will catch up quickly. There’s a fire in almost every scene in the movie. Mastani uses fire to ignite his arrow, Kashibai uses fire to ignite the diyi, Bajirao uses fire to prevent the chain wound it caused from spreading into Mastani’s body. This fire is also the subtext of the burning passion of the characters. One of the most beautiful scenes in the film is one in which Kashibai sits on a golden statue of a hybrid cheetah with a burning fire in front of him. This fire is her state of mind burning for Bajirao because Mastani seems to have become the object of her husband’s love. In a previous scene Bajirao poured water on the Kashibai. Dressed in saffron, a colour similar to the colour of fire, this flood of water was perhaps a subtle sign that the fire had lit Kashibai in the heart of Bajirao was beginning to die. It’s Mastani feeding the fire inside him right now. But Kashibai’s heart is still beating for him, and he’s sitting on the image of the beast, which was a reference to Bajirao himself.

And then there’s nature itself. Bajirao carries the Ring of Navgrih, which consists of nine planets. Yeh dharti, yeh aasman, yeh toofaan, aur yeh seene ki aag ko sakshi limp, aaj se hum aap ko apni patni maante hai. Nature – the earth, the air, the wind, the water and the fire in its heart – is the only proof of their connection. It was as if nature had blessed them. Finally, he said, the next time the sky will have a setting sun and a rising moon, they will meet; on that day the sky will change color, the winds of desire will blow, the clouds will roar, dry leaves will sway, and it will rain prematurely. There will be no religious barriers, no earthly relationships, only fire, the fire of their love. It is nature and its elements that in turn create the conditions for their eternal connection. Bajirao may have won forty wars, but he couldn’t win the one he fought for Mastani. Only in death can they meet forever.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is in love with peacocks. Ram Leela was full of peacocks. Every song in that film had a reference to the peacock and Aries was compared to the peacock in the film. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was also full of peacocks. His love for peacocks is so great that even the symbol of Bhansali Productions is a peacock. Bajirao Mastani is expected to give the peacock a hint. Not only are there peacock feathers on the walls and floors of the palace, but also motifs of peacock feathers, diyas, earrings and lamps. When Mastani is sent to a red light district, the woman calls him a morni joke. When she visits Mastani Mahal for the first time, a scream of a peacock can be heard in the background. There’s a lot of lotus in the movie, too. When Bajirao visits Aaina Mahal, Chimaji tells him he is standing on a lotus. There are lotus flowers in the rooms of Kashibai and Mastani. Even the beautiful movie poster is full of pink lotus flowers. The song Aaj Ibaadat says: Om Jai Om, mangalam pandarikaksham manglaaye tano Hari. All this predicts a lot of good for someone who has eyes like lotus petals. And kind to Krsna. Krishna is associated with peacocks and lotus flowers; they not only reinforce the reference to Krishna, but the presence of these symbols underlines the spiritual and divine elements in his early films and in Bajirao Mastani. The heroes and heroines are the incarnation of gods and goddesses.


Each shot of the film is so beautiful that it is impossible not to admire it. It’s really like poetry in motion. The film is fascinating because of its visual splendour. At many moments I just laughed and thought of his genius. You can’t help being fascinated by her. When this scene arrives, they project an image of Bajirao in Kashibai’s room and later a similar sequence in which Kashibai sees Bajirao and Mastani together – what a thought, what a scene. The best shots, another characteristic element of his films, are breathtaking. The symmetrical aerial photograph of the priests eating from the green leaves, the shot of the women dressed in red in Mastani’s father’s house when preparing the fire, the sequence of Gayanan’s songs, and even the way he uses Gulal, the peacock shaped logo of his production company, in the credits is simply beautiful.

As in every Bhansali film, all songs are beautifully choreographed. Diwani Mastani’s song is a dream song on the big screen. Its beauty is incomparable. This is the song I’ve been waiting for. Only the best shots of the song are worth a movie ticket. This song is a glorious tribute to one of the most emblematic songs of Hindi cinema, Jab Pyar Kiya To Darna Kiya from Mughal-e-Azam. Madhubala, dancing for the Emperor of India, declared her love for Salim in total ignorance of the world. At one point, she sings: Chhup na saqega ishq hamara, charon taraf hai unka nasaara. Their images are then reflected on the glistening walls of the palace. She’s everywhere. Mastani meets Shanivar Wada for the first time. She comes dressed in a golden lehenga, wears a peshwena topi and a golden nose ring, and holds a finely cut golden mandolin. The golden color matches the walls of the palace. Especially the golden color and the coincidence of the color of the coat with the color of the palate are important. The palace means something strong, grand and brave. Mastani shares these characteristics with the palace. Its history will stand the test of time, as if the walls of the palace are a testimony of that time. She sings: Mashur nur ishk ki kahani ho gay. Kehte hai yeh deewani mastani ho gayi. Her love story became famous and she fell in love. And so their story will be written with golden letters in the annals of history. As they say, itihaas ke sunehre aksharon me likeha jayega. Like Anarkali, she defied Maa Saheb’s orders and came to meet Bajirao. Just as Anarkali’s love was everywhere in the walls of Aina Mahal, Mastani was everywhere in the palace. The palace will be a testimony to their immortality. Their windowsills will remain within the palace walls for years. This may explain the confluence of Mastani and the palace in the song. In numerous interviews, Sanjay Leela Bhansali said that he had never made a film for posterity. His signs are also meant for posterity.

In Devdas, Paro and Chandramukhi two women who loved the same man danced together on Dola Re. With the Bajirao Mastani it is the two women of Bajirao who dance together in the ping. Kashibai and Mastani are dressed in a traditional Marathi silk sari, with a traditional necklace, a hop headgear and green bracelets. The only difference between the two is the colour of the sari. While Kashibai wears purple, Mastani wears dark red. This contrast symbolises the personality of the two women. Kashibay is royal and loyal to the king. Purple symbolizes power, wisdom, leadership, respect and wealth. It was worn by emperors in the past. Kashibai is also dressed in purple shades in the song of Diwani Mastani and on the poster of the film. In fact, Kashibai always carried a purple step with him. Mastani, on the other hand, is dressed in dark red, true to his name, because red is the colour of passion and determination. At one point, she sings: Haan tu jaane yeh duniyadari, main to hu bas mohabbat ki buti. She does not care about the things of the world, she is content to immerse herself in his divine love. Pakiza hasti hai teri, tu noorani hai. There is another moment in the song when Mastani sits in front of the Kashibai and reflects his inferior status as second wife. This resemblance in the costumes suggests that they both love the same person. Both share a love for Bajirao and for him, and the change of colour emphasizes the difference in their personalities. In fact, at one point, they even sing Jo peer meri hai so peer teri hai. What I worship, you worship. In Dola Re, Paro and Chandramukhi they dress almost identically, even in the colours there is no difference, which reflects their common love for the same man. At one point in the song Paro Chandramukhi advises to place the sindur and makes a gesture in which she places the sindur in Chandramukhi’s moon and then in her own head, indicating that they both love the same man, even though they don’t know it. There’s singing: His dono ki maang laage, sooni aadhi, aadhi laal. Like their half-filled moon, they share half a love for a man who can never be entirely theirs. That’s a great idea.

Not only Devani Mastani, but also the beautiful song Mohe Rang Do Laal is inspired by Mohe Panghat Pe Nand Laal from Mughal-E-Azam. In this song Anarkali, who plays Radha, sings Mori najuk kalaayaa marod gayo re. Here we sing Mastani, Marodi kalai mori. The similarity of the lyrics, the presence of the fountains, the seated women playing the veena and the audience falling in love with both songs leave no doubt that this is a tribute to Mughal-E-Azam. The scene in which Mastani is chained is also reminiscent of the scene of Anarkali in chains. Tumri, who plays in the background as Bajirao and Kashibai practice coitus, also seems to be inspired by Mugal-e-Azam. Even in Mughal times the Anarkali danced on the lotus floors. Mohabbat jo darti hai, wo mohabbat nahi ayashi hai, said Salim; Bajirao ne mastani se mohabbat ki hai, ayashi nahi, said Bajirao. Bhansali has said in many interviews that Mughals and Azam is his favorite movie. He watched it grow up with his father every year. Even in Saawariya, Imaan, Sakina and Badi Ammi see Mughal-E-Azam and Badi Ammi remembers all the dialogues in this film. With Bajirao Mastani he underlines the immense love he has for this film.

Albela Sajan, who also appeared in Chuke Sanam’s Hum Dil and was recreated in Bajirao Mastani, is a delightful classical composition. I also liked Malhari very much, despite the criticisms that were levelled at him. It’s an absolutely energetic and catchy song. My biggest disappointment was the song I liked most, Ab Tohe Jane Na Dungi, which wasn’t in the movie. The background music composed by Ji Re Ji Re is so engaging that it raises the stage a few centimetres. I want them to publish it as a song.

Ran Singh in the role of Bajirao offers a great achievement. The way he walks, talks, shows his aggressiveness, he brings the necessary seriousness to the role. Bajirao says Mastani was his prerna and Kashi his job. He knows it’s harder to maintain a relationship than to build one. He quit Mastani because he first wanted to talk to Kashi about his relationship with Mastani because she was his girlfriend and confidant and he respected his relationship with her. The film enters an interesting area when Mastani tells Kashi that if he had held her hand, he wouldn’t have let Kashi go either. Is it possible to fall in love with two women at the same time? No doubt he loved Mastani, maybe even more than he loved Kashi, but had he stopped loving Kashi? I’ve always wondered if people should be monogamous. I think it’s possible to fall in love with two people at the same time, maybe the intensity of love can vary. Take a movie like Kal Ho Naa Ho, for example. Naina’s in love with Aman, but she’s marrying Rohit… Aman was her first love and she says she will always remember him. Aman died, but she never stopped caring for him. What if Amar hadn’t died? Will she stop loving Aman? When Bajirao returns, he is sick and asks about Mastani, but also about Kashi. He’ll never forget that. Or maybe love faded away and she became a friend.

Deepika like Mastani looks cute. You can imagine she was the woman who was Mastani, but her passion was a bit stifled in the second part. Without a doubt, she was the most fascinating character. The first time we see her, she comes to Bajirao for help to save her kingdom. Later she’ll even fight him in the war. Why doesn’t her father go to war with her? She is the one who leads the battle to save her kingdom, and puts her life on the line. Besides, she wasn’t even the legal heiress of her father, because Mastani’s mother never married her father. I was wondering if she wanted to be accepted by the Bajirao family. Bajirao told her that she would be humiliated forever if she married him, and she accepted that gladly. Maybe that’s another reason she never rebelled against her family. She agreed to live in the prostitute’s house and even stayed in the khandar. Love makes them lose their identity. There’s a fascinating scene where she’s sent to a brothel. She draws her sword and trains with it. Maybe it was his way of channeling his anger. Something cruel in her conception could be therapeutic for her. Love also brings with it a kind of intuitive and magical power. I really liked the way she felt Bajirao coming to her. Even in her bloom she feels that something is wrong.

My favorite character was Kashibai. It is a very well written character and Priyanka Chopra flies with him. She stole everyone’s spotlight. She accepted the role, even though she knew she wasn’t the star and still managed to win all the prizes. She played in international TV shows, released her own album and shone in all roles. Priyanka, you go, girl. The character of Kashibai is inspired by the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. At one point, when she sits in her room crying with a white swan, this scene is a copy of the painting by Raja Ravi Varma. Kashibai was wrong, we feel sorry for her, but we don’t feel sorry for her. She doesn’t despair, she doesn’t take revenge and she doesn’t spill Mastani’s blood. In fact she doesn’t even care about the couples when Bajirao says that he and Mastani must have hurt them. She suffered more from the injuries caused by apnoea. She never loses her self-respect, but at the same time she is able to make people understand that she is suffering. She wants her to be the mistress, not the woman, because the woman has been forgotten and history remembers the prey. Yet she continues to fulfil her duties as a wife. She will welcome Mastani into her palace, but not into her heart. She never loses her humanity, although she could easily have killed Mastani when she heard he was going to be attacked. But she’s going to warn Bajirao of the imminent attack. This scene shows the power of his character. Eventually she meets Mastani in his palace. She makes hurtful remarks to him, but then realises that she has to come to her senses because Mastani is special to her husband. Rao ko tumhari zaroorat hai, aur unki zaroorat ka khayal rahna hamari zaroorat hai. The sacrifice of an insulted lover is a recurring trope in Bhansali’s work, and in a way this insulted lover is overcome by the power of his character. Whether it’s Vanraj, Chandramukhi, Gulaab ji or Kashibai. These characters understand love in a much deeper way, because for them love lies in the happiness of the loved one, even if it brings them pain. Like Nandini said: Tumne mujhe pyaar karna sikhaya, magar pyaar nibhaana maine apne pati se seekha hai. Kashibai knows the true meaning of love, and in the end a great man emerges. Rukmini may not be forgotten, but Kashibai will live forever.

In many cases I felt like Akbar Jodha reminded me of me. At a certain point Kashibai for example sees Bajirao bathing. In Jodha Akbar observes the formation of her sword and tries to lure her to keep looking at it. When Mastani said: Adhuri mulakat hai to phir se milne ka vaada hota hai, I remembered Kabhi Alvid Naa Kehnu where Dev says: Alvida Nahai, Alvida Kehne k e phir milne ki ummeed mar jaati hai, kya pata phir mile.

It’s a bit of a shame that the film has the biggest disclaimer in history, namely that it is a work of fiction. I’m amazed by the protests and the criticism that she’s trying to distort history. Do people really believe that Akbar’s son was Salim, as Mughal-e-Azam shows? It was a work of fiction. The fact that he let Paro and Chandramukhi dance together in Devdas was greeted with incomprehension. Devdas himself was a work of fiction, so is it a crime to interpret the story in his own way? Aren’t there almost three hundred versions of the Ramayana?

In an interview with Anupama Chopra, Sanjay revealed that he builds grandiose sets to dispel the claustrophobia he had as a child. The scenery is a mixture of the emotions of the characters. There is so much going on in the film that a single glance is not enough to capture all the details. I remember reading a few passages when Avatar came out. Critics applauded it as a film that brought people back to the cinema and made them rediscover the experience of watching a film on the big screen. Although the Hindi cinema has always been bigger than life, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is one of the few filmmakers whose films seem to have a magical power on the big screen. Bajirao Mastani is a film to be experienced on the big screen. Bajirao Mastani is the realisation of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s lifelong dream. The hero of the movie says: Chandan ke vriksh ko bhi sungan den ek umar ki aavashakta hoti hai. Sandalwood takes more than ten years to season before it is harvested. Life works in a strange way. It took more than ten years to make this film. Maybe it’s fate, where the cosmos conspires to find the right moment. Just as the smell of Chandan will last forever, the smell of the film will continue to delight.

[To find out more about the author’s work, check out his blog here].

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