Sharada Iyer

The countdown begins…only one week left for December 18th…The audience waits with bated breath as two major, big-budget, star-studded films will hit the cinema halls simultaneously- director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s historical romance-Bajirao Mastani  starring Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone , and  director Rohit Shetty’s  action-romance-Dilwale  starring Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sannon.

Both directors are highly respected and admired for their special kind of cinema and have a commendable track-record of box-office hits. The promotional activities are in full swing and as both films have a lot at stake, the makers and artistes of both films are leaving no stone unturned to market their films and create as much hype as possible to raise the curiosity level and get that coveted record-breaking ‘first day collection’ and ‘first weekend collection’.

The trailers of both have been released a few weeks back and garnered a record number of hits within 24 hours and the songs have already become chartbusters…

Same release date invariably leads to uncalled for but unavoidable comparisons of the films in question. So here goes…

Let us look at the story first…

Bajirao Mastani is based on the real life of one of the greatest Peshwas of Maratha Empire- Peshwa Bajirao I (1700-1740), a brilliant Maratha general and one of our greatest historical war heroes who became prime minister to the fourth Maratha Chhatrapati – Shahuji Raje Bhosale when he was just 20 years of age and during his regime, he is said to have won all the 41 battles he took part in. While his first wife Kashibai was a Hindu, his second wife Mastani was half-Muslim due to which their relationship faced many a storm. The film focuses on the relationship between these three and this absorbing real-life drama has whipped up a lot of intrigue and interest in the film.

On the other hand, there doesn’t seem anything unusual about the story of Dilwale.  It  appears to be a typical Bollywood-style ‘masala’ entertainer. SRK and Varun play brothers and have their respective love-stories woven into the script. The focus is obviously more on the pairing of SRK and Kajol and seems to have a parting and reunion angle incorporated as well.

Coming to production values…

For director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Bajirao  Mastani is a culmination of his eleven-year old dream. One can imagine the passion and dedication that has gone into transforming his vision into celluloid. His penchant for detailing can be seen in the spectacular sets, grand battle scenes, brilliant music and magnificently choreographed dance-sequences which would be a visual treat on the big screen. The colourful costumes have been designed after a lot of painstaking research and utmost care has gone into every weave and design of the fabrics in order to recreate the authenticity of the era in question.

On the other hand, everything about the scenes of  Dilwale in the trailer gives us a feeling of ‘deja-vu’ -awesome picture-perfect foreign locales of Bulgaria and Iceland, fast-paced chase sequences replete with cars flying and blown apart typical of all Rohit Shetty kind of films. Song sequences have nothing unique save for some imaginatively used VFX  shots.

Preparation for the role…

To get to play historical characters of 18th century and be part of such a lavishly mounted film is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any actor. It not only becomes a challenge to test his/her acting prowess but also entails a lot of patience, dedication and special preparation-both emotional and physical-to get under the skin of the character in terms of thought process, body language and dialogues apart from getting used to wearing those heavy costumes. All the actors have put in tremendous amount of hard work especially Ranveer(Bajirao I), Priyanka(Kashibai) and Deepika (Mastani).

For Dilwale, all the actors are just being themselves playing to the gallery by highlighting their plus points and taking care of their star-image. Nothing really challenging there for the actors involved.

Songs and their Picturization…

After Ram-Leela, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali once again dons the hat of a music director for Bajirao Mastani  as well and has come up with an incredible variety of splendid songs and all of them have been picturized in a beautiful manner. I am posting a link to the video of the song ‘Pinga’ from the film, which is a ‘twin dance’ sequence featuring both the heroines dancing to a magnificently choreographed ‘lavani’ number.

This is probably the first time that such a dance sequence has two top heroines dancing together. Both Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone not only look stunning but have danced like a dream. Incidentally, such ‘twin dance’ numbers are a very rare feature in today’s films (refer to my earlier blog-post ). The director definitely deserves to be applauded for attempting something so different and difficult and coming up with an unforgettable number.

The second song ‘Deewaani Mastaani’ picturized on the lovely Deepika is also a beautifully shot dance number with a set designed on the lines of Mughal-e-Azam.

The third song- ‘Malhari’ comes across as a victory dance after perhaps one of Bajirao’s war triumphs. The drum beats, the tune, the lyrics and the pulsating choreography capture the joy and triumphant fervour that usually follows the aftermath of a war victory.

Two more songs- ‘Aayat’ -a mesmerizing romantic number with a little bit of qawaali, and ‘Gajanana’ a resonating prayer song, have had only the audio of the song released so far and are brilliant compositions.

Coming to Dilwale, here is the link to the most popular number from the film titled ‘Gerua’. Though melodious in tune, the director seems to have concentrated more on the stunning locales and made the duo stand in awkward poses behind waterfalls and atop dangerous mountains and even a broken plane to give us picture-perfect backdrops . Instead, if he had only focussed more on the lead pair’s chemistry, the result would have been magical. And pray, why is SRK wearing those blue shades? It looks as if he doesn’t want to look into his lady-love’s eyes…

Maybe everyone involved is trying too hard to recreate the Raj-Simran magic of DDLJ. Let us hope that the film’s biggest USP does not end up being its biggest limitation…after all, 20IMG-20151204-WA0000 years is a long time and expecting to whip up the same magic could be really difficult…

Similar is the case with the other song –a duet ‘Janam Janam’- again picturized on SRK and Kajol. Sadly in some articles, this song is even being advertised as a tribute to Raj Kapoor-Nargis. Wish we could refrain from even mentioning any of our classics in a bid to catch the viewer’s attention… 

The third song-‘Manma Emotion Jaage Re’ is not only a very ordinary number but also has a very irritating female voice  singing a few lines for Kriti Sannon.

Curiosity factor…

Bajirao Mastani has three of our current top stars Priyanka, Ranveer and Deepika –all charismatic and brilliant actors coming together for the first time and thereby lending an enigmatic appeal to this triangular love story.

On the other hand, Dilwale  has the industry’s most loved iconic couple Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol coming together for the seventh time . Since their last outing was five years back ,the curiosity factor riding here is phenomenal.

Though the pre-release buzz in the media is tilted more towards Dilwale thanks to ShahRukh Khan’s magical charisma and enormous fan-following, I feel everything about Bajirao Mastani is so novel and different that it scores in every respect over Dilwale.  Only time will tell who will emerge as the winner…

On another note, one can’t help wondering as to why such big-budget films must compete with each other by releasing on the same day when there are 52 weeks in a year giving them ample time to space out their release. At times such clashes take a nasty turn because all this ruthless clamour for good cinema halls and vantage show timings only seem to give rise to unseemly bad blood between stars/producers/directors as well as unnecessary monetary losses for all parties involved. Even the audience is thrown in a quandary to choose between films.

Earlier clashes down the years have seen one of the two films suffer because of this unhealthy competition. Take the case of director Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om (OSO) vs director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya in 2007. While the former was the launch-pad for Deepika  Padukone and the latter the launch-pad for Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam, the presence of superstar  SRK tilted  the scales heavily in favour of OSO resulting in heavy losses for Saawariya. As a result both the directors stopped talking to each other for a long time.

Similarly in 2006, the SRK starrer Don, albeit being a shoddy remake of the classic original emerged the clear winner as compared to the Salman-Akshay-Preity Zinta starrer Jaaneman.

In 2012, the clash between YRF’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Devgn Films’ Son Of Sardar became quite ugly  as Ajay Devgn dragged producer Aditya Chopra to court claiming that the latter had used his power and position to take away all the important cinema halls and show timings. Needless to say he not only lost the case but also incurred heavy losses.

But here the story goes deeper. In this case Aditya Chopra is said to have got even with Ajay Devgn because back in 1991, Ajay Devgn had won the battle when as a mere newcomer his debut film Phool Aur Kaante had met with resounding success while veteran Yash Copra’s Lamhe,which released on the same day had turned out to be a total washout.

But the ‘baap’ of all clashes will be witnessed during Eid in 2016 when SRK’s Raees will clash with Salman Khan’s Sultan. This would really be an interesting clash to watch out for…

No longer is anyone talking about who acted well because the only question doing the rounds is who made how many crores…






  1. Great comparison. I think going by what I read in your pre review…I would like to see something different…not just depend on star value, past success….Bajirao Mastani is my vote. Extensive research….fantastic Lata!


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