Bajirao Mastani is the love story based in 17th century India, between the Maratha Peshwa Bajirao and the Bundelkhand princess, Mastani. I enjoyed Bajirao Mastani for its beautiful, vibrant canvas, the director’s mind for his creativity, the sheer grandeur in the form of awe-inspiring sets, mind blowing locales, the period costumes and finally the lilting music that stays with you for its Hindustani flavour. This apart, considering the fact that a movie is accepted or considered a hit by the power in its story, it is my view that the movie has failed, terribly.
My views that arise in the form of questions –
I am not able to relate to the love depicted as the entire story is based on this one peg!
1. Is love and its attainment the sole be all and end all of life? Where does it spring from? On setting eyes on one another? Isn't love supposed to be as a gradual outcome of mutual respect, mutual acceptance of each other over a period of time? Doesn't this love reek of lust where its attainment is merely a license 'to do the needful'? Does love's destination HAVE to be togetherness at the cost of others' happiness and peace? Can't love just exist in the heart and feel contentment at having known such love? Mastani’s expression of love was self-centric and myopic. Love and its expression at the cost of someone else’ happiness, a divisive society and a kingdom that wears Hinduism fiercely on its forehead. Bajirao’s love and holding on to it, at the cost of his wife’s angst and his kingdom’s disapproval and blatant anger notwithstanding.
2. For all his uprighteousness, doesn't Bajirao feel or have a sense of responsibility towards his wife who thinks the world of him? Where is his sense of commitment towards his wife? Mastani’s justification – ‘He loves me yes, but he hasn’t stopped loving you either’ feels like a slap on the face of the beleaguered woman. Or does Bajirao think attaining Mastani is his entitlement? Or did he accept Mastani out of a sense of gratitude? (since she supposedly saved his life?)
3. The only way the wronged woman (Kashibai, Bajirao’s first wife) shows her displeasure is by telling her man not to enter her chambers.
The role of a woman!
4. On one side, Kashi, the first wife of a Peshwa - her role is relegated to that of walking around with a pooja thali, dressing up, looking pretty and lighting/extinguishing lamps. And when the other woman makes a move she DOES NOT REACT! There is stoic acceptance when she sights her husband in the arms of another woman! In fact she turns away! On the other side Mastani is shown as a brave warrior princess. She manages to infiltrate Bajirao’s camp to see him and request him to help her kingdom that is being attacked. This is a Muslim woman who can ride a horse, wield a sword with finesse, take on four opponents at a time and yet settles to be the second fiddle! Talk of self worth!
5. Going by the role of woman prevalent then, how did a Peshwa have the temerity to enter a woman's chambers, a Muslim woman at that, and remove her top to allegedly see her wounds? Cinematic liberties one may say, to fan the love between Bajirao and Mastani one may say, but seriously! Here was a bold woman and considering the fact that the director was anyway taking creative license, he could have shown Bajirao’s attraction for Mastani for her fearlessness, her bravery and the fact that she was someone who broke the old mould of a typical Muslim woman.
6. The first wife and second wife merrily dancing in sexy nauvaris in the same frame, in the same room! Originally Kashibai was an arthritic woman who could hardly walk leave around prance around like her saree was full of ants. Ultimate was when Kashi sees Mastani in the nauvari she automatically nazar utharofies! How utterly corny!
The institution of Marriage
7. Bajirao calls Kashi his best friend and confidante, yet he didn't think twice before doing something that'd hurt her. The man could not obviously control his urges, owing to his exalted Peshwadom and machodom no less and respect the institution of marriage, yet wants to give the other woman the status and dignity of a wife! He was very obviously thinking with a certain different part of his anatomy!
8. Mastani is fully aware that Bajirao is much married, yet her focus is on ‘getting the man’!
The movie, obviously a biopic based on the original Peshwa and his love obviously has taken mega liberties in the name of cinematic license. The director having decided to take that license could have done better justice to the historical characters whose names are etched across the sands of time. To many who take inspiration from history like me, this film is a big let down!