It looks like every major Bollywood superstar wants to play a nationalist warrior taking on a kohl-black invader from the Mughal era. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani started the trend. Then came Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat where Maratha warrior Sadashiv Rao Bhau is seen taking on Dutt’s Ahmad Shah Abdali. Even before Panipat is out, Ajay Devgan’s ambitious Tanhaji’s trailer was released on Tuesday. It looks like a part of a trilogy of historicals on valiant noble legendary Maratha warriors taking on a brutish invader.
Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan at the trailer launch of 'Tanhaji'
There is no doubt that Devgan is the right fit for playing the Maratha warrior. And I can’t imagine a more suitable adversary than Saif Ali Khan. However the merger of the righteous and the renegade doesn’t create the impact that it ought to . At least not in the trailer. Devgan looks distracted. While Saif, never comfortable in characters he doesn’t believe in, behaves like Laal Kaptaan on steroids, Devgan looks like he has finally decided to do own Bajirao (the role was originally offered to Devgan)
Poster of 'Tanhaji'
The special effects showing men and horses making impossible leaps look like out-takes from Bajirao Mastani. The stunts clearly lack authenticity and could pull back producer Devgan’s best intentions. Somewhere in the stretched-out trailer Kajol appears as Tanhaji’s devoted wife. Her Maharashtrian look is impeccable. No one can fault the trailer for its eye for costume and accessories. But the effort to infiltrate the patriotic psyche seems skin-deep. Tanhaji looks like the patriotic card being played at high stakes but never quite getting a hang of the game. There is the patriotic hero’s mother vowing not to wear shoes until the invader is vanquished. This sounds like a threat we must take seriously.