Thankfully, the makers don’t follow the usual boring norms seeking the help of animation in the starting credits to explain the backdrop of the story. We see how Subedar Tanaji Malusare (Ajay Devgn) grows up fulfilling his dad’s promise of earning freedom for the country. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (Sharad Kelkar) is shown spreading the dream of ‘Swaraj’ (self-rule) all over the country.
On the Mughals’ side, we’ve Udhaybhan (Saif Ali Khan) moving to capture Kondhana (now Sihangad). Despite resistance, Shivaji Maharaj agrees to send his most loyal apprentice Tanaji to face Udhaybhan. The rest of the story is all about how Tanaji with his brain & brawn reaches Kondhana and faces Udhaybhan. And as they say, rest is history!
Ajay Devgn manages to pack a punch with his explosive performance. He makes you feel for the character & more importantly gets all the nuances on point. His power-packed presence surely keeps the intrigue alive.
Saif Ali Khan portrays the role which is crazy & adorable at the same time. It’s brilliant how amidst all the chaos of his character he manages to get his comical timing right. His character sketch is like a vintage wine, the more you see of him the better he gets.
Despite both of them being best at their games, the biggest takeaway for me from the film is Sharad Kelkar as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He is so subtle, so profound with his performance. If there’s anything made of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj from now, the actor playing him needs to be Sharad Kelkar. Kajol shares a couple of scenes and is good at it.
Finally, here comes a film that redesigns the genre and that’s Tanhaji for you.