Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bajirao Mastani

Pleasant surprise: $4.75 Tuesday at Apple Fresh Pond also applies to some Indian movies; considering how pricey they're been at other times, I wasn't expecting that at all, and it probably played into me spending a bit more at the concession stand. Given that this is what cheap Tuesday is for, well-done!

Fun thing about that concession stand: While most places that have pizza at the concession stand have some personal-sized version of one of the frozen brands at the supermarket, Apple appeared to be selling slices from Ma Magoo's at the other end of the shopping plaza, at least from the box that was sitting on top of the warming cabinet. I cannot endorse this practice enough - aside from this being pretty good pizza, who doesn't like local businesses supporting each other like this?

It being cheap night meant the screening was packed, and it didn't particularly seem like Priyanka Chopra was drawing new American fans. Craziest thing - a group that came in after me basically sat around me, even passing popcorn and soda over my lap without even an "excuse me" or some other acknowledgment of my presence. Fortunately, it didn't happen mid-film, although the guy two seats down was checking his phone a lot, often enough in sync with the musical numbers that I wondered if he was downloading individual songs from the soundtrack. Some others (behind me) were taking shots of the screen as numbers started. I get that, but, hey, they've got the internet for that, folks.

(Probably wouldn't have happened if the movie was presented in 3D, which seems like a possibility; the action scenes seemed to imply it as did a few other shots.)

Anyway, not a great movie, although I'm mildly curious to see the other big Bollywood opener from the 18th, Dilwale, in part because I read an article about how the two were kind of reversed in how they opened in India versus other markets, making me wonder if maybe the other would appeal more to foreigners as well as emigrants as was implied.

Bajirao Mastani

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 29 December 2015 in Apple Cinemas Cambridge #3 (first-run, DCP)

I guess it's an improvement that somewhere during the second half of Bajirao Mastani I backed off thinking of it as being a historical romance where nearly everybody is a terrible person, instead considering it one where people are simply selfish, occasionally stumbling into righteousness by accident. It's at least impressively mounted, so even if the love story leaves a bit of a bitter taste in one's mouth, there's certainly enough spectacle to make up for some of that.

As the film starts, Bajirao Ballal (Ranveer Singh) is appointed the new Peshwa (prime minister) of the Marathi Empire based upon his prowess in battle, wit, and political acumen, though it is not an entirely popular choice. In the middle of a mission of conquest, a warrior demands to speak with him; it turns out to be Mastani (Deepika Padukone), the daughter of Raja Chhatrasaal (Benjamin Gilani), whose city is under attack. He diverts to fight that battle, and love soon grows between Bajirao and Mastani. He gives her his dagger, unaware that in her culture a girl is married by accepting such a gift. She, then, follows him to his new palace, Shanivaar Wada, where she is not exactly welcomed with open arms by Bajirao's mother Radhabai (Tanvi Azmi) - or his first wife Kashibai (Priyanka Chopra), and that's before they learn that Mastani's mother is Muslim.

I'm going to guess that if I were steeped more in Indian culture and traditions, the conflicts in this film would have a little more resonance for me, but with that not the case, it sure seems like the romance that the film wants us to root for is yet another preening jackass who wants to have a second lover without considering the effect it has on his existing family and a woman who is fairly ruthless about staking her own claim. The irony, then, is that even if one is inclined to disapprove of their rapidly-established but at least genuine love, the people opposing it are far more horrible. The only truly sympathetic character is Kashi, and her role in this story is frustratingly familiar - to be hurt, told that she is still important to Bajirao despite evidence to the contrary, and to try to make it work because, really, what other options does a woman in her position have?

Full review on EFC.

1 comment:

Ranvir said...

I just watched Bajirao Mastani too and true to say, this movie amazed me a lot, especially the costume and music used in this movie. You might already know that this movie already broke some records in box office crossing 150 crores couple of days ago. I think if this movie wouldn't release with Dilwale on the same week, this movie definitely cross 250 crores till now.