Har Har Mahadev is a narrative that leaves the audience spell bound with the raw display of bravery, faith, discipline, morals, dignity and above all – love for thy motherland. We have heard quite a few chapters from the history of Maharashtra and the great Marathas. Har Har Mahadev is yet another chapter from the many stories of bravery and valour. It re-instils the sense of patriotism and respect for those who did not blink before laying down their lives for the freedom of the motherland. We have read, heard, and seen stories about the freedom struggle, but what you see here is raw and has multiple layers in the struggle itself. Har Har Mahadev becomes the third film of 2022, based on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the establishment of the Hindavi Swarajya, the earlier two being Pawankhind and Sarsenapati Hambirrao.
Let’s see what’s in store in Abhijeet Shirish Deshpande’s Har Har Mahadev that enjoys a stellar cast with Subodh Bhave, Sharad Kelkar, Amruta Khanvilkar, Sayali Sanjeev and others.
Har Har Mahadev begins by touching upon the rule of Watandars and the trivial disputes between them. On one hand, there’s the brave warrior of Hirdas Maval – Baji Prabhu Deshpande – who is torn between loyalty and his moral conscience, trying to balance the two but unable to succeed. It is very well presented with Shivaji’s dialogue which hints at winning battles of the mind and not just the ones in the battlefield. On the other hand, it is the young Shivaji Bhosale, before being conferred as Chhatrapati, a king in the making, whose ideology is to unite the people of his region and fight the Adilshahi tyranny to establish Hindavi Swarajya. And the tone of the narrative is established in the initial 15-20 mins.
The first half of the narrative is a built up of the story. How Baji Prabhu Deshpande is initially not keen on joining forces with Shivaji. He later becomes a trusted aide and a loyal warrior in Shivaji’s army and shares a special bond with Shivaji. This side of the story was seldom explored and hence makes for an interesting watch. It is laced with quite a few interesting dialogues and digs deeper into the relationship between the two warriors fighting their personal battles too.
The post interval session is all about the Siege of Panhala by Siddhi Jauhar, Shivaji’s trust in Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Baji’s strategy and conviction to plan Shivaji Maharaj’s escape from Panhala and the Battle of Pawankhind. Though one would say that we have seen ample of such battle / fight scenes earlier too, but Har Har Mahadev takes the action choreography to a different level coupled with thumping background music during the battle scenes. The music is such that takes the audience right into the battlefield.
Sharad Kelkar as Baji Prabhu Deshpande steals the show with his personality, his acting chops, and an overall display of layered emotions. One would have expected some fireworks from Shivaji’s character, but then probably, it must have been the way it is depicted.
The two great actors Sharad Kelkar and Subodh Bhave on screen in one frame with some engaging and fiery dialogues stand out and satisfy the audience’s expectations. However, what pulls the momentum down is the extended climax, which could have been crisper with more of sword fights at display. Also, the VFX could have been better, with so much of technology at hand and backing of a studio like Zee.
The cast other than Subodh and Sharad has little to add to the narrative of the film. Sayali Sanjeev, Hardeek Joshi and Amruta Khanvilkar still make the most of their limited screen time.
Overall, Har Har Mahadev is an ode to the Maratha warrior and his sacrifice. The film succeeds in creating a big-screen spectacle, a decent watch.
Movie: Har Har Mahadev
Director: Abhijeet Shirish Deshpande
Cast: Sharad Kelkar, Subodh Bhave, Kishore Kadam, Amruta Khanvilkar, Sharad Ponkshe, Ashok Shinde, Milind Shinde, Rajas Sule, Nishigandha Wad
Duration: 162 Mins