The sets are lavish, the screenplay laudable and the background score lifts the goings-on, on screen. The script, however, is lacking in depth and finesse.
By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 11, 2020
Rating: 2.5 / 5
The essence: Wanting to see the fearless warrior, having learnt so much about him in History, I, as a viewer, felt cheated as this was more filmi than historical. The sets are lavish, the screenplay laudable and the background score lifts the goings-on, on screen. The sword fight on horse-back too keeps you on the edge of the seat, but the script is lacking in depth and finesse.
Too much cinematic liberty can bring to nought all the hard work. Also, even a hint of nautanki in a performance can bring a character down to its knees.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the Maratha Warrior, is known in history as the shrewd tactician who fought and won many battles on the rough, mountainous terrain. In one scene, within his own chamber, Tanhaji (with an H) sports the getup of his (Shivaji’s) spiritual guru, to find out from him why he is not being informed about the fight to retrieve Kondhana fort. Now, this here is The Maratha Warrior who drove his bichuwa (a dagger) into Afzal Khan’s stomach, when the General was trying to outwit him!
Secondly, after Tanhaji takes pains to infiltrate Uday Bahn’s army to scour Kondhana Fort, escapes after being tortured and scales the high mountains in the dead of night, along with his army to capture the fort, Shivaji somehow feels that his trusted warrior is in pain and needs him. In no time Shivaji reaches the same Fort with his mother (which was laboriously climbed over by Tanhaji and his men) just before he breathes his last. This scene is akin to how the cops always came after the fight was over in old Bollywood films.
Lastly, Uday Bhan Singh, in his overzealousness to appear maniacal, turns out to be comical. I guess Saif Ali Khan was trying to imitate Ranveer Singh’s Allaudin Khilji in Padmaavat.
Wanting to see the fearless warrior, having learnt so much about him in History lessons, I, as a viewer, felt cheated as this was more filmi than historical. The sets are lavish, the screenplay laudable and the background score lifts the goings-on, on screen. The sword fight on horse-back too keeps you on the edge of the seat, but the script is lacking in depth and finesse.
The whole film is based on Tanaji’s capturing of Kondhana Fort even though his son, Raiba’s wedding has been set. This is precisely the reason why Shivaji does not want to inform Tanhaji of the impending battle—He wants his trusted man to enjoy some moment of peace with his family.
Ajay Devgn has made intense emotions his forte and he knows how to tap into his reserves. At one point in time, I almost thought he would say, “aata maaji satakli,” but has another line to say, albeit in the same mood and emotion. Sharad Kelkar brings to life the character of Shivaji even though his role is limited. The warmth in his eyes and the regal manner in which he walks does justice to the Maratha Warrior.
All in all, Tanhaji is a grand attempt at bringing to life The Unsung Warrior but fails. For those who love their history and who have always loved Tanaji, and his determination to lead battles, this could be a good watch.
Producer: Ajay Devgn, Bhushan Kumar
Director: Om Raut
Star Cast: Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Kajol, Sharad Kelkar
Also Read: Chhapaak Movie Review