One knows exactly what to expect from Bhansali given the magnanimity he gave to Devadas, with huge sets, grandiose dialogues, and characters expressing their strength as well as the vulnerability as vividly as anything else. Though there are a whole lot of historical inaccuracies, Bhansali hardly bothers. His Kashibai and Mastani dance together in a religious function just as his thakurain Paro and prostitute Chandramukhi did in Devdas.
Yet, the love story is carefully woven and we see a soft yet resolute Mastani landing in Puna to be with her lover, who is her husband by Bundelkhand standards. Deepika Padukone’s smoldering eyes do most of the talking in the film, another reason why after so many names to play the character, Bhansali zeroed in on her. But, the most exemplary performance is of Priyanka Chopra who was also the first to be cast in the film. Kashibai can hardly be called a supporting character, given how poignantly Chopra has played the vulnerable wife of Bajirao who is cast aside once the new one comes in. The pain and the gradual loss of self-respect which she experiences are visible all through the film, so much so that your heart goes out to her.
Bajirao’s depiction of not bowing down to traditions which don’t make sense to him and making all attempts to see both his wives are treated equally receives flak and he, like the typical Bhansali hero, gives up his title of Peshwa. The star-crossed lovers are joined together in an artistic set-up and we get to know we have a Bhansali movie at our hands. It might be called love or lust or a plain case of an extra-marital affair. But the grandness and the exquisite songs and dance keep you glued. Bhansali has always used this trope in all his films.