Tanhaji Movie Review Rating: 3.5/5 Stars (Three and a half stars)

Star Cast: Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Sharad Kelkar, Kajol, Luke Kenny

Director: Om Raut

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review: Ajay Devgn & Saif Ali Khan Redesign The Genre To ‘Masala Period Drama’

What’s Good: It takes its own way to reach the destination and doesn’t follow the ‘road taken’ many-a-times, all the three lead performances (Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan & Sharad Kelkar) hold your attention till the end.

What’s Bad: From the very tight duration of 130 minutes, makers take the entire first half to lay the base of the film and that worried me for a while.

Loo Break: Even if you’re in the wrong screen, just sit tight till the end!

Watch or Not?: Even if you aren’t a fan of the genre, give it a try for its freshness.

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Thankfully, the makers don’t follow the usual boring norms seeking the help of animation in the starting credits to explain the backdrop of the story. We see how Subedar Tanaji Malusare (Ajay Devgn) grows up fulfilling his dad’s promise of earning freedom for the country. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (Sharad Kelkar) is shown spreading the dream of ‘Swaraj’ (self-rule) all over the country.

On the Mughals’ side, we’ve Udhaybhan (Saif Ali Khan) moving to capture Kondhana (now Sihangad). Despite resistance, Shivaji Maharaj agrees to send his most loyal apprentice Tanaji to face Udhaybhan. The rest of the story is all about how Tanaji with his brain & brawn reaches Kondhana and faces Udhaybhan. And as they say, rest is history!

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review: Script Analysis

Prakash Kapadia & Om Raut’s story surely takes many liberties but just to amp up the watching experience. It’s very convenient at places which raises the question of “Has this really happened?”. I would’ve complained about the same if the makers have taken the route of usual period-dramas. But this is unlike most of them we’ve seen. It manages to stand tall between a period drama and a commercial potboiler.

Bringing in Ramazan Bulut (Inferno, Rush fame) on-board results into some top-notch action sequences. Because of a lot of theory and less practical, the first half of the film misses the punch. It only drastically picks up in the second half and leaves you on high with the climax. The press show I attended turned into a single-screen theatre by the end. An experience to cherish! Dharmendra Sharma’s editing keeps the pace very tight and the duration (130 minutes) is a benchmark now for the filmmakers.

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review: Star Performance

Ajay Devgn manages to pack a punch with his explosive performance. He makes you feel for the character & more importantly gets all the nuances on point. His power-packed presence surely keeps the intrigue alive.

Saif Ali Khan portrays the role which is crazy & adorable at the same time. It’s brilliant how amidst all the chaos of his character he manages to get his comical timing right. His character sketch is like a vintage wine, the more you see of him the better he gets.

Despite both of them being best at their games, the biggest takeaway for me from the film is Sharad Kelkar as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He is so subtle, so profound with his performance. If there’s anything made of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj from now, the actor playing him needs to be Sharad Kelkar. Kajol shares a couple of scenes and is good at it.

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review: Direction, Music

For someone directing his first Bollywood film, Om Raut manages to handle the scale very well. He doesn’t get too formulaic following what the period-dramas have done before this. It’s a fresh attempt at reinventing and mashing this genre with a pinch of masala. He manages to narrate a very interesting history chapter but in his own way. This could open ways to the new genre of Masala Period Drama.

First and foremost, credit where due – it’s Sandeep Shirodkar’s background score that helps to connect you by the action happening on screen. Without going loud, it blows your mind. Songs are the weak link as most of them are forced and affect the pace. It’s Sachet–Parampara’s Ghamand Kar that works the best. It’s also smartly woven into the background score for the desired impact.

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Movie Review: The Last Word

All said and done, Tanhaji serves what it promises – a historical lesson with unabashed entertainment. Once in a blue moon, there comes a film that redesigns the genre and that’s Tanhaji for you.

Three and a half stars!

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior Trailer

Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior releases on 10th January 2020.

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