Saturday, December 19, 2015

Bajirao + Mastani

Resistance to The Force is futile, so I ended up at the theater anyway.  My wife wanted a distraction and wasn't wanting to be seen in a Star Wars movie, so we ended up in a very large auditorium as the only alien species present.  In fact this was the only time we can remember in 36 years of being together when we were both aliens at the same time.  The theater was entirely filled with Indians.  Fortunately we arrived 40 minutes early, because it sold out completely and we would not have gotten a decent seat otherwise.

Thus, we found ourselves watching a Hindi movie with English subtitles, Bajirao Mastani.  The Indians are taking over Fremont, California, and as the saying goes, "If you can't beat them, join them".

My sense is that the setting and story line were concocted for the more important aspects of the visual effects along with the singing and dancing.  The purported setting being the rise of a Hindu empire that was gradually reducing the Moguls.  The theme of the movie seems to be something like "love conquers religion", although there are some, um, minor snags along the way.  Like the first wife.  And the fact that a military general needs to spend almost all of his time in the field, rather than dallying around with his wives.  Then we need to explain how it is that the general, being married to an actual Miss Universe, becomes exclusively enamored with another woman.  But I am not Indian, so I won't pursue this line too far.  The ending seemed a bit Shakespearean to me.

What I wonder the most about this is the handling of polygamy vs monogamy.  The surface message is that monogamy is the only things acceptable, but some religions promote polygamy.  There is another part of the movies message that it is somehow cruel to suppress the true love that can only be realized in polygamy.  I tend to view love more as an issue of responsible commitment, so there is no question of polygamy.  But then again, I am not Indian.


Rummuser said...

The producer has taken many liberties with historical facts for commercial reasons and the descendents of both Bajirao and Mastani have taken serious objections. The film has been boycotted by the public in the state where I live, Maharashtra which is the home turf of both descendents.

Looney said...

The disclaimers at the beginning and end of the movie gave some hint of the controversy brewing. Now checking the internet I see that there is a controversy I hadn't known about. It seems good that people care about such things. I have become numb since it is more startling if a Hollywood historical film isn't systematically abusing the story for ideological reasons, and often making the story less attractive than the original. Thus, I began with the assumption that the film was way off base.

My complaints about the realism would start with Bajirao's Legolas quality archery and his ability to slice up armored assailants with a flimsy sword. Then there was Mastani whose Kung Fu abilities would have no problem beating Bruce Lee, but I didn't see any complaints of that so far. I did see a complaint about Kashibai and Mastani doing a joint dance (searching after watching the movie), which seemed to me a ridiculous stretch when I watched the movie: Are you really going to get these rival wives to spend a lot of time choreographing a dance? Especially given the subject of the song? So I considered that the scene was simply an excuse to see Priyanka and Deepika dance.

Thanks for the note. It certainly gives a better perspective on things.

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

I teleported from Rummy's post. This movie sounds very interesting, so I will look for it.
All historical movies are filled with inaccuracies and controversy, so I'm not surprised.

I wish you, and yours, a Merry Merry Christmas :)


Looney said...

Hello Max,

A merry Christmas to you also!