Bajirao Mastani is a 2015 Indian Hindi-language epic historical romance film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who also composed its soundtrack. Jointly produced by Bhansali and Eros International’s Kishore Lulla, the film stars Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra. The supporting cast includes Tanvi Azmi, Vaibhav Tatwawaadi and Milind Soman. Based on the fictional Marathi novel Rau by Nagnath S. Inamdar, Bajirao Mastani narrates the story of the Maratha Peshwa Bajirao I (1700–1740 AD) and his second wife.
Conceived as early as the 1990s, Bhansali announced the film in 2003 but production was delayed several times due to its changing cast. Bajirao Mastani, a passion project for Bhansali, spent the next eleven years in development hell before being revived in 2014. Extensive research was done before moving into pre-production, which required the creation of twenty-two highly detailed sets, and numerous costumes and props to strengthen its opulence and high production value. Principal photography took place on sets constructed in Film City, with some portions being filmed on location. Visual effects and CGI were used in post-production to enhance a number of scenes.
The film was released on 18 December 2015 and praised for Bhansali’s direction, various technical achievements, and the performances of the cast. Bajirao Mastani has also been noted for its scale, grandeur and attention to detail. With a budget of ₹145 crores, including marketing and advertisements, it is one of the most expensive Hindi films. It has grossed over ₹356 crores at the box office, becoming a major commercial success and one of the highest-grossing Indian films of all time.
Recipient of several accolades, Bajirao Mastani won seven National Film Awards, including Best Direction and Best Supporting Actress for Azmi. The film received a leading fourteen nominations at the 61st Filmfare Awards and won nine awards, including Best Film, Best Director for Bhansali, Best Actor for Singh, and Best Supporting Actress for Chopra. At the Zee Cine Awards, Singh won Critics Award for Best Actor – Male and Padukone won Best Actor – Female.
In the early 18th century, the court of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shahu needs a new Peshwa, the equivalent of a prime minister. Ambaji Pant nominates a young Bajirao. As a test, Bajirao is asked to split a peacock feather with an arrow. He succeeds and is given the Peshwa title. Ten years later, his wife Kashibai is visited by her widowed friend Bhanu, whose husband, accused of spying, was ordered to be executed by Bajirao. She predicts that just as she yearns for her husband, Kashibai will yearn for Bajirao.
While travelling to Sironja, an emissary from Bundelkhand requests Bajirao’s help to fight invaders. She reveals herself to be Mastani, the daughter of the Hindu Rajput king Chhatrasal and his Persian Muslim consort Ruhani Begum. Impressed by her skills as a warrior, Bajirao assists her with his army and defeats the invaders. Chhatrasal is overjoyed and insists Bajirao spend Holi with them. Mastani and Bajirao fall in love during this time and he gives her his dagger, unaware that it is a symbol of marriage among the Rajputs. Back home in Pune, Kashibai greets Bajirao with a tour of their newly built Shaniwar Wada and the Aaina Mahal (Hall of Mirrors), which allows her to see him from her room.
A painting of Baji Rao I (left) and Mastani (right)
Determined to pursue her love, Mastani arrives in Pune but is treated harshly by Bajirao’s mother Radhabai and accommodated in the palace for courtesans, as Radhabai refuses to accept her as a daughter-in-law. Mastani tolerates this and adamantly expresses her desire to be with Bajirao; Bajirao chides her persistence, reminding her he is already married and will never fully be hers; his court will also never respect her. Mastani agrees to these conditions so Bajirao declares her his second wife.
The Marathas prepare to attack Delhi, the capital of the Mughal Empire, but must first ensure the Nizam, the Muslim ruler of Hyderabad, will not attack them. Bajirao leaves to confront the Nizam, Qamar ud-Din Khan, and returns successful. Through her Aaina Mahal, a pregnant Kashibai sees Bajirao embracing Mastani, who is also expecting. Heartbroken, she leaves for her mother’s home, and returns months later with her newborn son, who is named Raghunath. Mastani also gives birth to a son, named Krishna Rao. After the Brahmin priest refuses to conduct the Hindu naming ceremony on the grounds that Krishna Rao is illegitimate, Bajirao renames his son Shamsher Bahadur, deciding he will be raised Muslim. A few years later, Kashibai and Bajirao’s eldest son Balaji Baji Rao, known as Nana Saheb, returns from Satara and expresses his hatred of Mastani for breaking his mother’s marriage.
Kashibai is informed of a plan to murder Mastani and her son during a festival. She saves Mastani by relaying this to an unaware Bajirao, who promptly rescues them. To keep Mastani safe and grant her a royal home, Bajirao builds a palace for her. He later leaves for the battlefield to defeat Nasir Jung, the vengeful son of the Nizam. Before leaving, he meets Kashibai in deference to the tradition that the wife see her husband into battle. In tears, Kashibai explains that Bajirao broke her heart and took her pride with what he has done, and compares their love with that of Krishna and Rukmini. She asks him never to enter her chamber again, and a teary-eyed Bajirao accepts, apologising for hurting her.
Once Bajirao leaves, his mother and Nana Saheb imprison Mastani and her son. After Bajirao receives the news, he singlehandedly defeats Nasir Jung’s army in his rage but is fatally injured. At Bajirao’s deathbed, Kashibai sends a letter pleading with his mother to release Mastani so that he recovers. Nana Saheb burns the letter, though Mastani’s son is set free. Bajirao, delirious from his illness, hallucinates and dies as Kashibai helplessly watches; at the same time, Mastani dies in captivity. The ill-fated lovers are united in death.
The cast is listed below:
Ranveer Singh as Bajirao I, Peshwa of the Maratha Empire
Deepika Padukone as Mastani
Priyanka Chopra as Kashibai
Tanvi Azmi as Radhabai
Milind Soman as Ambaji Pant Purandare
Vaibhav Tatwawaadi as Chimaji Appa
Ayush Tandon as Nana Saheb
Mahesh Manjrekar as Chhatrapati Shahu
Aditya Pancholi as Shripatrao Pratinidhi
Raza Murad as Asaf Jah I, Nizam of Hyderabad
Sukhada Khandkekar as Anubai
Benjamin Gilani as King Chhatrasal
Anuja Sathe as Bhiubai
Yatin Karyekar as Krishna Bhatt
Ganesh Yadav as Malhar Rao Holkar
Snehlata Girish Vasaikar as Bhanu
Irrfan Khan as the narrator (voice-over)
Kaartik Ahuja as Nasir Jung
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