Film review: Tanhaji, a tribute to Maratha valour | Sunday Observer

Film review: Tanhaji, a tribute to Maratha valour

A scene from Tanhaji
A scene from Tanhaji

Hindi cinema loves revisiting India’s glorious past every now and then and narrating the stories of heroism and bravery. After last year’s Panipat paid tribute to Maratha pride, 2020 has begun on a high note with the story of yet another unsung Maratha hero known as Tanhaji. 

With the cutting edge technology, Tanhaji has achieved Hollywood-like perfection. With 3D technology, Tanhaji has brought something different to Hindi film lovers around the globe

Nagalingam Kumarakuruparan, an Indian journalist and Indologist based in Hyderabad in an email interview says, by the 16th century invading hordes of Muslim Turks of Central Asia, Afghans and Mughals had almost decimated the Hindu ruling dynasties.

They also destroyed Hindu and Buddhist temples and monasteries. They even set fire to the famous library at Nalanda.

However, their forward march was effectively halted by the Marathas who ruled certain regions of the Indian subcontinent. The foundation of the Mughal Empire was gradually shaken by the Marathas who established their power by the middle of the 17th century.

Marathas lived mainly in the south western part of India known as Deccan. They challenged the rising Mughal Empire by engaging in relentless battles which prevented them from penetrating the south of India.

Marathas were led by Shivaji who established his kingdom in Deccan. Marathas came to prominence during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. He was the son of Shah Jahan who built Taj Mahal in Agra. The invaders found it extremely difficult to conquer the forts held by Marathas who were experts in jungle warfare.

Tanhaji Malusare (Ajay Devgan), a trusted subedar of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (Sharad Kelkar), is determined to reclaim the Kondhana Fort which Shivaji had to cede to the shrewd Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (Luke Kenny) under the treaty of Purandhar.

Tanhaji, along with his brave Maratha soldiers, succeeds in capturing the Fort heavily guarded by the emperor’s trusted aide and Rajput Commander, Udaybhan (Saif Ali Khan) and a massive canon called ‘Naagin.’

When Marathas take on Udaybhan’s army in the rough terrain, VFX (visual effects) magic starts happening. The long action sequence is a precursor to a tone of urgency engulfing the rest of the film. We see a terrible clash between two street-smart warriors. The battle scenes have been delightfully planned and camera movements have sustained the viewers’ interest.

Director Om Raut has exhibited his talents in his debut film. His team of technical experts have recreated sword fighting, slicing and dicing to fit a 3D film of this magnitude.

He holds a mirror to Marathas’ valour which seems unstoppable. Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat had the rousing battle cry ringing across the screen. Tanhaji seems to follow the same trend.

The film is loaded with fascinating dialogues with English subtitles and action scenes involving Ajay Devgan, Sharad Kelkar, Kajol and Saif Ali Khan.

With the cutting edge technology, Tanhaji has achieved Hollywood-like perfection. With 3D technology, Tanhaji has brought something different to Hindi film lovers around the globe.

Saif Ali Khan’s acting as a bad guy reminds me of Ranveer Singh and Sanjay Dutt who played similar roles in recent Hindi films. There is of course an excessive use of CGI (Computer Generated Images) but it does not appear to be awkward in the film.

Ajay Devgan seems to be in his element in the role of Tanhaji. Kajol, his wife in real life, plays the role of onscreen wife as Savitribai.

With the limited screen exposure she has impressed the viewers. She has succeeded in her role as Tanhaji’s pillar of strength. When I left The Luxe cinema in One Galle Face, I had a queer feeling that Saif Ali Khan has outshone others with his acting. He reminds me of Ranveer Singh in Padmaavat. His ferocious character comes out when he tastes roasted crocodile flesh! 

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