Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review : This story of a braveheart makes for a thrilling watch

Filmmaker Om Raut’s Bollywood directorial debut may have factual discrepancies, but  ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Hero’  is one of the best period war dramas that Bollywood has produced in recent times.

Shot brilliantly with commendable performances by the entire cast, ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Hero’ is based in the 17th century and narrates the story of Maratha warrior Tanhaji Malusare- a trusted aid of Maratha emperor Shivaji, who fought the battle of Kondhana to safeguard the fort from Mughal invasion. Shivaji had to reluctantly give up 28 of his forts to Aurangzeb but four years later, he pledged to take Kondhana back because of its strategic location. Aurangzeb sent his most trusted warrior, a Rajput called Udaybhan to capture Kondhana(present-day Singhgarh) with a large army, a mammoth cannon called ‘Nagin’ and lot of artillery.

Compared to the Mughals, Tanhaji leads a motley group of fierce Maratha warriors and captured the fort over a long battle one night.

Raut uses a sufficient amount of creative liberty to tell a tale that may not have been taught in school to everyone. While the clashes between Shivaji and Aurangzeb are well known- the story tries to delve deeper and talk of the warriors from both sides who fought on behalf of their kings.

Lavish sets, sleek camera work, superb stunts, and great CGI dominate each frame of Tanhaji making the film a visual spectacle. The technical finesse is there for everyone to see and while the film takes you back in time, the film has state of the art CGI making the battle scene especially come alive. Each of the stunts is well performed and the film has been shot keeping in mind the 3d aspect. Frames by cinematographer Keiko Nakahara are awe-inspiring.

While the film is technically very sound, it is also propelled by great performances. Ajay Devgn excels in the action sequences the most. Sharad Kelkar, who plays Shivaji Maharaj has limited screen time but leaves a lasting impression. The effervescent Kajol appears only in a handful of scenes as Savitri Bai, Tanhaji’s wife but simply lights up the screen with her presence. Its a delight watch the real-life couple play the reel couple after so many years.

The star of the film, though, is Saif Ali Khan, who brings a certain amount of mayhem as Udaybhan Rathod. An eccentric who has a cunning smile plastered on his face throughout, Saif makes evil look good. Time and again, Saif has proved that given a good script, he delivers and in Om Raut and Prakash Kapadia’s detailed screenplay, the actor gets ample scope to showcase his talent.

The scenes near the climax which has Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan pitted against each other are the high points of the film.

While the film is technically sound and boasts of great performances, it takes a copious amount of liberty in terms of historical facts. The makers try to project Mughals as the oppressors from whom the Marathas seek freedom and live in a Swarajya. The film opens to 17th century Bharat- which is historically not true considering the concept of one nation never really existed at that time. Each emperor was just busy consolidating his kingdom, there was no concept one nation.

Tanhaji – The Unsung Warrior Review IMG

The actors speak a mix of Marathi and Urdu laced Hindi which is somewhat ironic. I found myself lost on many occasions when the actors spoke out a line here and there in Marathi. Perhaps subtitles would have helped.

If you are willing to overlook the facts and history, ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Hero’ makes for a thrilling watch. There is not a single dull moment -especially in the second half when the war scenes come alive. The film has sleek action, well-shot scenes and a very menacing Saif Ali Khan who more than makes up for all the flaws.

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