I couldn’t not watch the movie on its release – there were accusations of disrespecting royalty, disrespecting historical facts and blatant misuse of creative freedom – it was a hotly debated topic. Rave reviews helped make the movie popular, and the fact that every shot was captured in a beautiful manner. Being a movie buff, I found myself enjoying a late night show in the first week.
The storyteller has made it amply clear that the movie is but an adaptation, and creative freedom has to be employed. We may ignore the curious ‘Maratha’ accent of a Brahmin warrior, dance sequences which suit no one and multiple other aspects which critics have been efficient in highlighting. It is crucial to note that the three leading characters have been defined like thick pastel brush strokes on canvas.
Bajirao and Mastani are personalities beyond the control of the society they live in. They love, they suffer and they do things. They are two wild strands of poetry, beyond definitions. They are two dancing flames, licking the surfaces with stubborn soot. They exist in a glorious manner, much to the dismay of others who disapprove. The twosome do not care, not unlike works of art which never do, and neither do the artists, who live in their own reality at all times. What is reality but your own perception? What is an opinion but light filtered through your own lens? Isn’t every kaleidoscope unique?
Kashibai is a metaphor for sheer strength and love that withstands serious upheavals. Her gracious acceptance of Mastani’s existence yet communicating her fiery opinions to the person who is responsible teaches us how to cope with what life throws at you. She is the symbol for an empowered woman, not Mastani, who merely gave in to her passions and raw desire.
If we attempt to find a historically accurate thread in the story, we might laugh a shrill one. If we attempt to experience what the storyteller was keen to showcase, we might be in for beautiful cinema. There is no good or bad in this world, but mere perception – if you seek beauty, you’d find it. You’d also find a way to read the poetry in every human being henceforth – word play, analogies and subtlety is what makes us fall in love :)