I came away impressed by the movie Bajiao Mastani, it was epic in scale comparable to Mughal-e-Azam only grander in design. 'Bhagwa' (Saffron flag, a Hindu religious colour) fluttering amidst shouts of 'Har Har Mahadev' and Maratha horse ploughing through enemy lines is unprecedented in Indian movie making. Historical accuracy notwithstanding, the movie cinematography was excellent with grand sets, accurate costume design and battle sequences. Song and dance routines played out at the drop of a hat but Sanjay Leela Bansali movies are known for beautifully choreographed songs, so no surprises there.
On the flip side, the story lacks narrative depth. Bajirao, Mastani's nor Kashibai's character were given much space to develop, victims to the time consuming song and dance routine. Even though being a love story, the movie did not exude the romance and tragedy like in 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', viewer never gets to experience how the two feel so deeply madly in love, the love story did not make the emotional connect.
Given the fact, Peshwa Bajiao was a great Maratha leader second only to Shivaji Maharaj the viewers were deprived of significant narrative of his persona and history, while a minor insignificant episode in his life was made larger than life. The story alludes to a great Maratha history but shies away from showcasing it in full. In truth the movie tries to be a love story while narrating half baked historical facts and ends up being neither. The truth is in the letter Bajirao sent to Chimanji Appa (his younger brother) after the campaign in Bundelkhand. He never speaks or alludes to Mastani or of a budding love. In the fast evolving political landscape, Bajirao sped towards Delhi and besieged the city for many months, this part has been ignored in the movie, showing Bajirao returning to Pune.
To cancel out any perceived anti Muslim bias, Sanjay finds enough time to build a anti Brahminical narrative to paint the Brahmins as the evil religious bigots who try to come between the Brahmin Peshwa and his love, plotting to kill Mastani and her toddler son Shamsher. I wonder how would it would have been if Bajirao was a Muslim and Mastani a Hindu, would the Mullah's and mother-in-law combine have been projected as tolerant, accepting and secular? I bet they would. Brahmins and Baniyas happen to be easy scape goats for any of India's multitude of problems past or present as was the case with Amir Khan movie PK.
Practically speaking second marriage especially among Brahmins is not allowed, more so in the case of Peshawa Bajirao as any second marriage and resultant offspring would have created a succession conflict which is best avoided, Chatrapati Sahu had made Peshwahi hereditary title in the Bajirao's family.
Bajirao-Mastani, though a bold movie in many ways and infinitely better than the pathetic apology Jodha-Akbar, Sanjay like many in Bollywood don't have the courage or the confidence to address historical facts and narrate history as is. Indian movie makers hide behind fake love stories and secular story telling. If someone decides to make a movie on Aurangzeb, I am sure they would find or cook up a secular episode because Indian movie makers don't have the courage to tell the truth while find it easy to paint the Hindus especially the Brahmins as evil. This should stop. If anything Maurya, Guptas, Vijaynagara, Rajputs, Maratha's became a military force and an empire mainly because of the visionary nation building guidance of the Brahmins starting with Chanakya, who recognised Bharat as a single cultural and political entity and strived to unite us as one nation.