Film: Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior

Director: Om Raut

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Kajol

Tanhaji: The Unsung War is a step forward in the genre of Bollywood period dramas. Not just in terms of its screenplay, but also its treatment of the text.

The war films narrative changes in many instances in the film. Maratha women are equally brave like their warrior partners, the leading antagonist (Saif Ali Khan) has a backstory of a romantic angle etc. are a. few examples.

The design of the film is worked hard upon though not yet as technologically polished, basic physical problems do play a problem. Extra seconds of Ajay Devgn looking into the camera to establish some effect or a horse suddenly disappearing from screen to make place for something else are a few instances.

Ajay Devgn plays his character to the T. There is something naturally stoic when it comes to playing psychologically non-complex hero of a war drama or a spy for the righteous cause. That end is given to be explored by Saif Ali Khan, who blends in Ranveer Singh’s Khilji from Padmaavat to his own portrayal of the character of Uday Bhan Singh.

Kajol played her part well, however small it was, while a host of other supporting characters including Sharad Kelkar make their presence felt.

Loosely based on the historical life of Tanaji Malussare and the Battle of Sinhagad (1670), Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior is a brave attempt to fictionalise popular regional folklore to create something entertaining.

While makers succeed in doing that, they take time to adjust to the mood of the film, atleast in the first half.

Somehow, the first half like most period films suffered the weight of establishing its story line, character strengths, show of grandiose, valour, love for the motherland etc. The second half was better executed. Although, the typical interval break did not happen when the audience most expected it. The surprise and unexpected element of the film made it even more plausible.

The dialogues of the film suited the genre as did the design.

The background score of the film is fresh and innovative in some places, like that of the portrayal of Ajay’s prowess of warfare in the first half. In other places, it is relatable to most films of this kind, and the songs being the most potent example of this.

Om Raut’s direction is a breath of fresh air in this genre, though adherence to relatable, massy films sustains. The cinematography of the film is grand like its scale. Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior does fall flat on various premises like conforming to certain stereotypes but then again, the historicity of the material is to be catered to.

It goes without a given that the action of the film is heavily focused upon, although it stands out only in certain parts. It is almost like that all action is meant to be performed and aced by the superhuman prowess of Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan only while the rest of the cast perform and look like mere ants in front of the lead characters.

The tonality of the film is like all other films of this kind. Darker shades complement Saif, while bright colours play in favour of Ajay.

All in all, Tanhaji is a massy entertainer that brings certain nuances to the period drama film, plays with it and subsumes into the larger fabric of the genre.

Rating: 2