In times of films from South being lapped up and the Hindi films being thrashed, there is an industry who is quietly and unassumingly going about doing their job. That industry is the Marathi film industry who are quietly rollicking at the moment. With films like Zombivali, Jhimma and Pavankhind, they are producing one quality content after another. And it was recently when the 4th film of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj released in a theatre titled Sher Shivraj. While I did miss out on watching it in a theatre, I was keeping a close eye on its OTT release. The film finally made its way to Amazon Prime Video and I jumped at the opportunity.
I have had immense faith in Director Digpal Lanjrekar ever since I watched Fatteshikast. Later Pavankhind was rousing and absolutely took the cake here. So I was really excited to watch Sher Shivraj given my love for history and culture. Now that I have finished watching it, here are my two cents on it.
Story & Screenplay
Sher Shivraj is another chapter in the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as he takes on his arch rival Afzal Khan. The story is rousing, although a lot more cerebral as compared to the earlier films in the franchise. The screenplay is a bit of a slow burner which relies on conversations. But the good news is that the conversations are engaging and cerebral. Given the nature of the screenplay, probably a crisper edit would have been ideal as the screenplay stands at over 150 minutes which I felt was a tad too long. The proceedings though are engaging and they will have your attention throughout.
I continue to have one complaint in the appearance of the arch rivals. It was similar to films like Tanhaji and even the previous film Pawankhind and I feel probably a lesser tone can be applied to their appearance and make them slightly more human who would mix in the crowd. But these are minor flaws in what is again a winner of a screenplay. The strategies which are shown are quite enjoyable with a hint of humour and it makes for a compelling piece of drama. The final act is again rousing and a good one although if you would compare it to Pawankhind it would fall short. But overall, a rousing piece of writing yet again!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues will definitely give you a share of goosebumps which means they do leave an impact. The music is decent and does its bit to enhance the storytelling although the songs slightly slacken the pace of the drama. The BGM is good and compliments the drama. The action set pieces are nicely choreographed. Director Digpal Lanjrekar has found his comfort zone(in a good way) and he is again in excellent form here. He understands the pulse of the audience and ensures that he delivers the final product in a rousing and an entertaining manner.
The performances are outstanding here as always. One thing that found me circling back to a “flaw” is that the same actors(like Sameer Dharmashikari and Ajay Purkar to name a few) have been essaying different characters in the same universe. I feel within the same universe this just takes a bit of the shine away from the drama. But nevertheless, Sameer Dharmadhikari as Kanhoji Jedhe and Ajay Purkar as Subhedar Tanhaji Malusare have been splendid here. Dipti Ketkar as Matoshri Dipaiau Bandal is first rate particularly in combat sequences. Isha Keskar as Matoshri Sai Bhonsale and Madjavi Neemkar as Matoshri Soyarabai are both excellent despite a limited screentime. Varsha Usgaonkar as Badi Begum and Mrinal Kulkarni as Jijabai are brilliant. Mrunmayee Deshpande as Kesar is fabulous and adds a bit of humour to the otherwise serious drama. Rishi Saxena as Fazal Khan has his moments to shine as does Akshay Waghmare as Pilaji Gole and Aastad Kale as Vishwas Dighe and Bipin Surve as Sarjerao Jedhe. Digpal Lanjrekar as Bahirji Naik is excellent in the acting department. Mukesh Rishi as Afzal Khan is intimidating with a towering persona. But it is Chinmay Mandlekar as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in a role which he has made his own, who stamps his authority in every scene. His demeanor and nuances make him every bit of the character and he is absolutely wonderful to watch onscreen as always.
Sher Shivraj is a rousing addition to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Universe. Available On Amazon Prime.