Har Har Mahadev
Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Marathi film Har Har Mahadev in a theatre near me which is regarded as the first PAN India Marathi film ever. I have always had a fascination for history which has instantly drawn me towards these historic films.
Now there have been many films that have been made of the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It was Digpal Lanjrekar who had in a way created a multiverse of sorts by making films dedicated to separate episodes in the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. These were fascinating to witness onscreen that made for some memorable movie watching experiences. So when the film Har Har Mahadev was announced, I was kind of skeptical given that this subject had been tackled before in films like Pavankhind, and Sher Shivaji which was out this year itself. The key ingredient here was on how different would its treatment be. So then is Har Har Mahadev worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Har Har Mahadev follows the story of a young Shivaji Bhosale(before he got the title of Chhatrapati) as he begins to lay the foundation of Swarajya with Baji Prabhu Deshpande by his side. The story is something that you have already seen in some of the other films on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj however the treatment here is a little different. The focus is on humanizing the characters here outside of their daredevil antics. The screenplay standing at almost 160 minutes could have perhaps been trimmed by 10 to 15 minutes but the writing here ensures that you are invested for most of the duration.
The drama focuses on the dynamics between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Baji Prabhu Deshpande which is different from what you may have seen in some of the other films. Their relationship here starts on a rocky note where clearly you can see the difference in their ideologies. There are multiple subplots to begin with in the first half itself that helps you gauge the protagonists better. I however did feel that some of the subplots here were not needed and they could have been edited out to avoid adding crucial minutes to the final drama. And I say this because there is a lot of meat going forward and that is where the fun begins.
Once you get past the initial 20 minutes, the drama does get interesting and engaging even though you would be aware about the turn of events. The drama is packaged as a mass masala entertainer and it definitely lives up to its reputation. The film essentially covers two major incidents – the assassination of Afzal Khan and the final battle of Pavankhind and both the sequences are well carried out. Another welcome change was the portrayal of the opposition which atleast did have bright colours tagged to them this time as opposed to dark shades(which were still prevalent but a lot better than few of the other films).
But the drama has an emotional connect too. It does not solely focus on the war strategies but instead it focuses on the characters and their emotions too. This adds a human touch to the drama which was really good to watch. The events in the second half are interesting as there is a little more urgency to the drama that definitely keeps you on your toes. But the final act in the last 30 odd minutes steals the show. The action sequences in the final act are very well choreographed and that is when you definitely do end up getting a high. Overall, the screenplsy is well penned which could have been even better had they trimmed down the overall length of the drama.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are sharp and definitely leave an impact. The music is terrific with an even better BGM that contributes to several monents of high particularly in the final act. The cinematography is good, the VFX is a suspect but given the budget of the film I shall let that pass. Director Abhijeet Deshpande does a swell job in creating an engaging drama and a rousing part of history packaged as a mass masala entertainer. The direction here is first rate.
The performances are really good here. Ashok Shinde as Fulaji Prabhu Deshpande, Milind Shinde as Siddi, Hardeek Joshi as Abaji Vishwanath and Sayali Sanjeev as Maharani Saibai Bhonsale all have their moments to shine. Amruta Khanvilkar as Sonabai Deshpande is wonderfully restrained and does a fine job here despite a limited screen time. Subodh Bhave as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is commendable in trying to give his character a human touch although the act by Chinmay Mandlekar had a better poise to it(can’t help but compare). Sharad Kelkar is the real deal here as Baji Prabhu Deshpande. He balances the emotions with the right kind of intensity to his character that makes for a towering performance. And that baritone voice! Man, I am a fan now!
Har Har Mahadev is a rousing and explosive drama that makes for a good watch. Available in a theatre near you!