For the first time in her career, award-winning Bollywood actress Kajol will attempt to conquer the historical epic genre with ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’, out in UAE cinemas on January 9.
It’s a 17th century epic that was arduous to execute, but its lead actress is on a mission to make Indian history come alive this weekend.
‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’, spearheaded by Kajol’s husband Ajay Devgn and actor Saif Ali Khan, will chronicle the 1670 battle of Sinhagad where Maratha forces, led by military leader Tanhaji, defeated the mighty Mughals led by Rajput general Udaybhan Singh Rathod (Khan).
‘Tanhaji …’ is an ambitious spectacle laden with battle scenes, bombastic bravery, fierce warriors and some thrilling VFX.
“It’s important for us and our kids to understand what our country has gone through. We have a culture that’s very rich. It’s important for everyone to know our history and we want to start 2020 with a bang with an engrossing film that touches upon an important chapter in our history,” said Kajol. The 45-year-old actress plays the warrior’s wife Savitribai Malusare, a quiet force in military leader Tanhaji’s life.
Her character may not be the one wielding swords, but she exudes a steely resolve that helped Tanhaji become an impenetrable force on the battle front.
“Savitribai had a different battle to fight in her life and it was an important one,” said Kajol.
The actress — who has impressed with her riveting act in films including ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’,‘Kabhie Khushie Kabhi Gham’ and the more recent ‘Helicopter Eela’ — discusses her latest role, her method behind choosing films in her career and why she thinks a work-life balance is what matters the most …
Excerpts from our interview …
Q: ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’ is the first period epic of your career. Did the genre entice you to take this project on?
A: I don’t choose a script based on its genre. I liked the character of Savitribai Malusare enough to do a period film. A period film is a lot of hard work and lot more hard work than a usual film, so it has to be worth it. Tanhaji is a character that we all know about, verbally at least. I remember there was a chapter about him in our textbooks when we learnt about Chhatrapati Shivaji. There was just one paragraph written about him in our textbooks, but there’s so much more than that to him. Orally, he was spoken about a lot in my childhood. I remember how my grandmother would tell me about Shivajirao and the bravery shown by Tanhaji. I was familiar with this important historical figure since my childhood days.
Q: Does Savitribai Malusare enter the battle field as a warrior in this film?
A: No. ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’ is about an episode in Indian history. It’s not a biopic on him either. It dwells on an episode in our history where a handful of Marathas took on the Mughal Empire and how they managed to win that tough battle. The film is based on that particular event and Tanjahi’s character is nicely portrayed, but his wife doesn’t go out and fight the battle like a warrior. She has a different battle to fight in her life. Her strength lies in another direction.
I found her an amazing character to play. It’s much more than that, but I can’t say more as it would reveal the entire scope of the film. All the relationships in this film are nicely and clearly shown. I really liked the relationship shown between Tanhaji and his wife. Every character is clearly drawn out and we haven’t tried to dilute it. If Saif’s character is black, then he is playing a black character throughout the film. If Ajay is playing a character who’s purely white, then he remains so till the last frame. Similarly, Savitribai has a clearly defined character. She’s an amazing woman and it’s a well-written role. Once you see the film, you can judge for yourself.
Q: Were women of that era empowered and how relevant is your character in today’s times?
A: It’s very relevant as Savitribai had a clear idea of who she was. But relevance wasn’t something we took into consideration because it wasn’t something that society expected of you back then. I think the lines or the structure that you put women in today’s times were more stringent and definitive when compared to that era. There are certain expectations about women today. There were less constraints during Savitribai’s times. She’s very much Tanhaji’s support and partner. In the trailers, he says that he can’t do without her. When you see it on 3D screens, you will enter a different world and era. We want to show our Indian history in the best light through the film.
Q: Why don’t we see more of you in films?
A: I want to do a film aaram se [at leisure]. I don’t want to work too hard. I am enjoying a nice balance in my work and life right now. I have a lot of travelling left to do as well. The idea is to strike a good, nice balance between work and life. I don’t want to do too much of anything in my life.
Q: Is it because of the lack of good roles, though?
A: There’s a lack of good writing in Bollywood. We don’t get good scripts often. I am a reader and so when I am listening to a script, then it should be as good as the book I am reading. If it is not as good as that then I don’t think I can do anything to make it better by being a part of it.
Q: How would you describe 2019, the year that has gone by?
A: It has been a little good, little bad and a little ugly. There’s been a lot of bittersweet memories in 2019. I am happy to enter 2020.
Don’t miss it!
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior is out in UAE cinemas on January 9.