My Movie Review

Tanhaji-the unsung warrior

Some of my childhood memories are from holidays in Pune and picnics to Sinhagad. The fort always brought awe and pride by its sheer scale and majesty. And of course, we loved to hear stories about Shivaji and especially the one about how Tanhaji won back the fort from the Moguls. I especially loved the line ‘Gad jinkla, pan Simha gela’ which led to the fort being renamed Sinhagad from its original name Kondhana.

The film Tanhaji, the unsung warrior is a vivid recreation of this historical folklore and a tale which has been told with grand scale visuals and a simple heartfelt script.

Ajay Devgan is an excellent fit for the rugged Maratha Subedar and plays Tanhaji Malusare as a man who wears his patriotism as well as his heart on his sleeve. His devotion to his family and his passion for his motherland are brought out beautifully in his character.

And his adversary has been equally well scripted and Udaybhan Singh Rathore is brought to life superbly by Saif Ali Khan. Udaybhan is ruthless but his back story gives us a glimpse into his festering wound and need to prove himself worthy of his benefactor Aurangzeb’s trust. Saif plays Uday with an a elegant twist where he manages to keep him human yet interesting without going overboard on the macabre. One is reminded of his Langda Tyagi in Omkara, the other film that he played villain to Devgan’s hero and made a mark for himself.

Other notables are Kajol as Savitri bai, Tanhaji’s wife and while she has a really small role, she looks gorgeous in Nachiket Barve’s costumes. In fact, Barve’s costumes are a definite plus in the film where they help in creating and defining the characters without becoming too stylised and overwhelming. So is the production design which recreates fairly authentic Maratha architecture of the time.

Sharad Kelkar and Luke Kenny as Shivaji and Aurangzeb do a good job too. As major characters in that period of history, they play supporting roles in the film but their significance is not diminished due to the excellent scripting and direction.

The entire casting of the film is good and every character is a good fit and so adds to the film without turning it into a unidimensional glorification of the main protagonists.

Om Raut, the director has done a great job of telling this historical story with vigour and pride and it’s good to see the balance he is able to create without vilifying one side to glorify the other.

While the scale of the film is grand, some of the vfx is a letdown and doesn’t feel real. Considering India is at the forefront in this area and does some of the best work in international films, this is a bit disappointing. The other disappointment is the music which doesn’t have a strong character and the same goes for the dance sequences.

The film is a bit slow in the first half but picks up after the interval and the climax of the actual mount on Kondhana keeps one gripped. One of the highlight is watching the various guerrilla warfare tactics shown in the film and marvelling at the ingenuity of Shivaji’s Mawlas who won many battles through the use of these techniques.

The last 20 odd minutes of the film is what brings us to the edge of our seats and climax fight between Tanhaji and Udaybhan is the ultimate highlight of the film.

Tanhaji is a good film and well told story. Watch it for Devgan and Saif and for a bit of Maratha pride 🙂
It’s a 3.5 stars from me.