Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review: A Fast Paced Historical Thriller with some historical inaccuracies.
Last Modified On: 10 January 2020 | Reviewed By: Saurabh S Nair
Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan ensure that the viewers get enough dose of high-voltage dialogues, along with fascinating action scenes. With an extraordinary background score.
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Cast: Ajay Devgn, Kajol, Saif Ali Khan
Director: Om Raut
Hindi Cinema is now high on exploring the throes of Indian history. After the success of Bhansali's Padmawat and Bajirao Mastani, Bollywood got its formula in periodic dramas but the makers started to add inaccuracies in the name of cinematic liberties such as recent box office dud Panipat.
The fictionalized account of the life of Tanaji Malusare, one of Maratha emperor Shivaji's bravest generals, is portrayed through a fast-paced narrative that hooks you till the end in spite of its flaws.
The story takes place in the year 1670. Tanhaji (Ajay Devgn) is busy preparing for the wedding of his son Rayba when he has to leave it all aside to go on a mission for Shivaji (Sharad Kelkar) to recapture Kondhana fort for the Marathas from the Mughals. It’s part of Aurangzeb’s plan to use the strategic fort as the base for Mughal expansion into South India and the fort is in control of his Rajput officer Udaybhan Rathod (Saif Ali Khan).
In the opening act, we see a group of Maratha gorilla warriors ready to take on Udaybhan’s army amid rough terrains, but this is when the VFX magic starts happening. Ajay-Atul’s high-octane background music sets the mood and the actors perform choreographed stunts. They deliberately sync their war moves with the score giving it a symphony feel. This long action sequence is a precursor to a tone of urgency engulfing the rest of the film.
Director Om Raut, making his Hindi-language debut, confuses scale with cinematic finesse. To his credit, however, Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior is not devoid of visual flourishes. Most of them are a result of the work of the CGI technicians and the 3D cinematography by Japan-born, US-trained Keiko Nakahara. Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior is impressively mounted and the climactic sequences are first-rate.
Tanhaji might look one-dimensional at points as Raut’s version of the crucial Battle of Sinhagad is one hell of an ode to Tanaji’s bravery and refuses to go beyond certain thresholds. It’s also not so subtle in its symbol game as good and evil can be identified with their clothes’ colors.
However, even if it’s over the top in creating larger than life heroes and villains, it’s very engaging. The delightfully planned battle scenes, coupled with inspired camera movements, are good enough to sustain your interest.
The performances breathe some life into the proceedings when the show threatens to turn overly stuffy. While Devgn and Khan deliver some neat blows on the way to the final face-off, the supporting cast members, notably Sharad Kelkar as Shivaji, Luke Kenny as Aurangzeb and, of course, Kajol, give a great account of themselves.
Ajay Devgn appears to be trying really hard to make Tanaji a hero, which he indeed is in reality even sans all that pomp and show: "Jis tarah mitti ke har kan main pahad hota hai, har beej main ek jungle, har talwar main ek sena, ussi tarah har ek Maratha main chhupa hai lakh Maratha."
Kajol is reuniting with her husband in the latter's 100th film. It's been almost a decade since we last saw them together on the screen. The actress is seen playing Tanaji's wife Savitribai Malusare. Kajol's Savitribai is an 'adarsh' Maratha wife who stands with her husband in pain and in sorrow. While there is not much for the actress to do in the film dominated by male valor and patriotism, Kajol's chemistry with husband Ajay is refreshing.
Saif Ali Khan's Udaybhan Singh is the only treat you are taking out of Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. In his anti-hero avatar, Saif yet again proves his versatility. The character is evil and blatantly unpleasant, but it also hides several layers in it. While there are several historical loopholes in this character and his mannerisms that appear to have been influenced by Afghani culture more than Mughal, Saif Ali Khan cannot be deprived of the praise he deserves in choosing to portray such a complex character. The actor's expressions and acting talent will make you detest Udaybhan Singh for life.
Overall, Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior is worth a watch, and will surely give you an adrenaline rush and insights of a forgotten hero.
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