One word review: BREATHTAKING
The story of Tanhaji is one that has been overlooked in the catacombs of Indian history. Director Om Raut brings it back to life in an epic period action drama. Raut, known for the critically acclaimed biopic Lokmanya, directs yet another legendary story of yet another significant Marathi historical figure. Raut’s direction contributes a modesty to what is inherently a story of glory and pride. He is able to bring these legendary historic figures down to earth and make them relatable.
Unique Selling point
One of Tanhaji’s biggest achievements as a production is its visually provocative cinematography. In the past Indian period films have chosen a very bright and colorful palate. However, cinematographer Keiko Nakahara chooses to go with heavily saturated colors with sharp dark overtones giving a very rugged look reminiscent of graphic novels and anime. This gives the audience a fresh perspective in the already drawn out genre of period biopics.
The evocative background score with its high paced energetic percussion combined with Maratha battle cries engages all your senses. Similarly, the fresh era consistent soundtrack with original songs reminds us that one does not need to sprinkle modern beats and rhythms just to favor the current trend.
Ajay Devgn’s performance in the lead role is on target. That is to be expected as Devgn has always been able to bring the necessary intensity to his roles. One unique aspect Devgn’s portrayal was bringing forward his vulnerability as a husband and father. It is rare to see such raw human emotion portrayed in male characters, especially those considered fierce warriors.
Sharad Kelkar’s portrayal of Shivaji is probably the most relatable one yet. Previous iterations have focused on his prowess as a warrior and fighter. However, Kelkar presents us with a more down-to-earth ruler who not only cares for his people but also those close to him.
it is quite evident from this film that Saif Ali Khan is at his best when he portrays the worst characters. Khan’s portrayal of Udaybhan Rathore will give you flashbacks to his previous villainous character from Omkara. Devious to the core, Udaybhan is depicted as a violent brute whose fixation with supremacy makes him a narcissistic sociopath who will not let anyone get in his way.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that Kajol and Neha Sharma, the only female leads get sidelined by the heavily male dominated story. It would have been nice to see more from each, but still good performances by both.
Om Raut’s Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior tells a deeply passionate story through robust intensely haunting performances that pop out on the visually captivating canvas of the big screen.