Tanhaji - The Unsung Warrior

wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)

quick review:

Overt dramatisation, powerful delivery of over-written dialogue, considerably awful CGI. Yet a moderately engaging film, partly because of the story of bravery and partly because of decent performances.

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Director: Om Raut
Running time: 135 minutes
Genres: Action, Patriotism, War
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Tanhaji - The Unsung Warrior - Preview

The periodicals are getting a little 2010s, aren’t they? Most of them seem like the makers are exploiting an opportunity to exhibit grandeur and glorify war. The interest in history or even the passion for telling his story seem secondary. For the histrionics and extravaganza though I can watch the film, sure.

Tanhaji releases on 10 January 2020.

- meeta, a part of the audience

I didn’t get bored—that is the film’s success. Like many other historical Indian war films, Tanhaji dwells heavy on the action and the emotions related to loyalty, patriotism, family’s worry and pride. Fortunately, it also has some bits with strategy that kept me going amidst all the heavy-handed writing.

Given that there was much to distract, Ajay Devgn, Kajol and especially Saif Ali Khan kept my attention whenever they were on screen.

It does help that the last 30-45 minutes of the final war don’t have monotonous editing. They merge 3-4 locations, adding to the air of urgency. Also, despite the tacky comic-book-like CGI, the visualisation of the techniques used to climb forts and attack enemies gripped my attention. I had only heard stories of how it was done. Putting a visual to my imagination was oddly satisfying.

Other than that, though, the movie is the usual combination of undying love for the land that one calls own and an unshakeable sense of duty pitted against the barbaric passion for power. Trust a war film to turn a mind game like chess into violence. As valiant as the warriors were and as important a history chapter, it is, nothing is extraordinary. Similarly, some little details that are in all likelihood fictional are cute.

Of course, it doesn’t help that it is a story that you know quite well, right to the iconic climactic line. In fact, I was wondering why the movie calls Tanaji an unsung hero. He was well-regarded then, and his story is repeated now. Speaking of the title, I guess one isn’t supposed to ponder over the change of spelling. As I saw Tanaji dance though, I did wonder how the movie didn’t face any protests in real life.

Sure enough, I was jolted out of reverie under my 3-D glasses when an arrow came hurtling towards me, twice. I suspect it was the same shot. In any case, felt like a cheap trick rather than an intelligent use of the medium. Given that there was much to distract, Ajay Devgn, Kajol and especially Saif Ali Khan kept my attention whenever they were on screen.

Amid loud background score that shows how happy the makers are with themselves; many-many betrayals and double-crossings; and many incongruities such as a sudden comic, sword-fight orchestrated as a dance sequence, a execution by hanging turning into a humorous scene, people who have supposedly never seen each other recognising each other, oppressive regimes being accused of religious intolerance while clearly allowing a religious celebration in the next scene, a ferocious villain appreciating a dance step, and Tanaji carrying mirrors and Shivaji’s mother’s footwear with him through the war; there was unexpected and striking commentary on contemporary concepts such as men crying, consent and dissent.

Yet, the emotional hooks were weak, the effort in writing impactful dialogue too obvious, and the telling too plain to have a long-lasting impression.

- meeta, a part of the audience

33 reviewers(?) - 20 yays 11 so-so 2 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...In all, yes as a historical it might not have those emotions or any explosive human drama focusing more on the action sequences in particular, still TANHAJI deserves to be seen for its informative value, lead performances and the technical excellence achieved, preferably in 3D.... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...While the earnestness of purpose and the scale of vision in Tanhaji are not to be doubted, the 3D format is not just unnecessary it actually hampers the flow of the storytelling. The CGs are laughably bad with the flying horses taking the cake. Otherwise all else is well in the Hindu paradise. Until the next invader crashes the party.... full review

Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...The music is situational and not of chartbuster variety. 'Ghamand Kar' is the theme song of the film and is quite exhilarating. 'Shankara Re Shankara' comes at a great juncture. 'Maay Bhavani' is average while 'Tinak Tinak' is moving. Sandeep Shirodkar's background score adds to the drama heavily.... full review

Thumbs up, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...Ajay Devgn delivers an adrenaline raising experience with Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. It is film that you will remember for it's scenes and moments. Watch it in a single screen so that you don't feel awkward hooting or clapping. That is if you do!... full review

Thumbs up, by Riddhima Kanetkar, DNA : ...Verdict: Watch it for the magnificent performances by Kajol and Saif Ali Khan who clearly outshine this Ajay Devgn film.... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior is a total paisa vasool product for all action fans. It's rumoured that Ajay Devgn is going to produce a series of films celebrating unsung heroes. So be prepared for more of the same. He has reinvented himself time and again and looks like playing a historical warrior is going to be a big part of his legacy.... full review

Thumbs up, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...While the songs strugle to make a mark, Sandeep Shirodkar's pulsating background music lingers with you for a long time.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shubha Shetty Saha, Free Press Journal : ...A special mention has to be made of the action director Ramazan Bullut, who has done a super job, especially in the climax.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR is a story that definitely needs to be told, it’s getting told at your nearest theatres, make sure you see this incredible story of rousing valour and pride.... full review

Thumbs up, by Monika Rawal Kukreja, Hindustan Times : ...Tanhaji is a complete package. It’s magnificent, high on visual effects and has powerful action backed by rock solid performances.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonal Gera, India TV : ...Director Om Raut, considering his debutant status, manages to handle three big stars on the scale pretty well. He goes formulaic at places, and prefers to remain subtle in many. Raut has a flair for storytelling, and that shows in how he manages the balance between heroism, emotions, and war drama.... full review

Thumbs up, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...This is probably Hindi cinema’s first true-blue historical epic in decades. And it will be doing even better than it should on its high merits because of the national mood of the moment against the forces that are trying to destroy its spirit. Remember the merely above-average “URI: The Surgical Strikes” and “The Tashkent Files” last year? This one’s set to break bigger barriers.... full review

Thumbs up, by Michael Gomes, Khaleej Times : ...Music directors Ajay-Atul have done a good job by composing a background score that has strong Marathi influences, like the sound of the dhols (drums) or tutrari (Maharastrian trumpet). Thankfully, the movie has only four songs. Fewer songs help maintain the flow and the pace better.... full review

Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Tanhaji serves what it promises – a historical lesson with unabashed entertainment. Once in a blue moon, there comes a film that redesigns the genre and that’s Tanhaji for you.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shalini Sur, Movie Talkies : ...What makes this film an absolute visual cinematic treat, is its high end VFX and CGI work, which makes this film a must watch in 3D. Director Om Raut in his directorial debut has managed to deliver a masterpiece which is all set to roar at the box office. Watch this film to get an interesting insight from the pages of history about the 'unsung hero' Tanhaji, as the title suggests.... full review

Thumbs up, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...With filmmakers scrambling to convert historical accounts into big-screen spectacles, this one makes for a deserving triibute to a warrior who slipped through the cracks of history and arguably, was eclipsed by the Maharaj he represented .But even for those who don’t care for a history lesson, this makes for an action-packed battle film that introduces one to ancient war techniques and formations employed tocircumvent every obstacle.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rohit Vats, News18.com : ...At 134-minutes, Tanhaji offers a vision, in terms of technical finesse, that’s hard to resist.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vaibhavi V Risbood, Pinkvilla : ...VFX department adds to the strong storyline and direction and is not used excessively. Putting on the 3D glasses will enhance the experience, and it is definitely something this reviewer recommends. If you can make a theatre full of film reviewers whistle, you have won the battle!... full review

Thumbs up, by Joginder Tuteja, Planet Bollywood : ...What is overall impressive though is the fact that as a team, Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan and Om Raut have managed to tell a story that not many were even aware of. With technology, funds and resources at hand, they have brought their own individual brilliance to come together and result in a film that deserves a watch only in theatres.... full review

Thumbs up, by Harshada Rege, Times of India : ...'Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior' scores on various counts — superior performances, powerful action, visual impact, and most of all, it unfolds a story from the pages of history that deserved to be told, with just this kind of intensity, passion and vigour.... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, Deepa Gahlot : ...For all its scale and scope, Tanhaji is not very entertaining—at least not in the sense of offering an exhilarating high that an epic of this nature should have presented to the audience. It may be a watchable film, but not one that will go on to become a memorable historical.... full review

So-So, by Devansh Sharma, FirstPost : ...The same can be said for the character of Shivaji (Sharad Kelkar) but his sidelining can be attributed to Tanhaji being considered the focal point of the narrative. Given he is in almost every frame of the story, Devgn needed to play Tanaji with many more shades. He is unfortunately reduced to a type, who just speaks Marathi.... full review

So-So, by Punarvasu Pendse, fullhyd.com : ...The music by Ajay-Atul and Sachet-Parampara is the exact kind you would expect in large period pieces. Ajay-Atul, especially, have become the go-to people when a movie needs bombastic song and dance sequences, particularly if it has any connection to Maharashtra or Marathi folklore. The songs are all loud and proud, save for one at the end featuring Kajol that also seems out of place.... full review

So-So, by Jyoti Kanyal, india today : ...Kajol is reuniting with her husband in the latter's 100th film. It's been almost a decade since we last saw them together on the screen. The actress is seen playing Tanaji's wife Savitribai Malusare. Kajol's Savitribai is an 'adarsh' Maratha wife who stands with her husband in pain and in sorrow. While there is not much for the actress to do in the film dominated by male valour and patriotism, Kajol's chemistry with husband Ajay is refreshing.... full review

So-So, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...The film is never far from silliness, but there’s often a reason attached. Tanhaji, on a recce mission, leads a celebration at Kondhana and a delighted Udaybhan mimics his moves... full review

So-So, by Vinamra Mathur, MiD DAY : ...This isn't a perfect film, drags its feet at certain places, but coming from the bland battle of Panipat just a month ago, this clash between the Marathas and the Mughals would any day be a better option!... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Watch Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior for its surface gloss: one attribute that the film has no dearth of.... full review

So-So, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...A 300-like artistic palette, waterfall that leads into a secret cave like Phantom's and perilous landscapes evoking Lord of the Rings, Tanhaji's technical slickness and rich production values take more inspiration from pop culture than historical accuracy.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...People will write powadas, or ballads, about you, Tanjahi is told. They did, and the movie often has the quality of a ballad – it’s heavily embellished, romantic and simplistic. Tanhaji loudly sings its hero’s praises, creating a spectacle that is thrilling when in battle mode and troubling when considering the dynamic between the Marathas and the Mughals.... full review

So-So, by Vinayak Chakravorty, Sify Movies : ...Tanhaji is substantially enriched by its technical crew that has worked to create a splendid canvas for the cast to shine upon. It tells the story of a lesser known hero from the chapters of Indian history, which makes this an intriguing film.... full review

So-So, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...The hero and villain sit on convenient extremes. Devgn is suitably efficient as the one who can’t do anything wrong. But Udaybhan (Saif) gets interpreted a la Alauddin Khilji, perhaps just because of his association with Aurangzeb. Saif Ali Khan plays the manic, unhinged character who’d chop off an elephant’s trunk without so much as blinking and eats crocodile meat... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...And then there’s the kinetic climax, all strategy and battle and CGI. Scores of soldiers are shown scaling impossibly steep cliff-sides, and running into a rain of bows-and-arrows; Tanhaji himself races towards certain doom, but also victory, and the ‘maukaparast darinda’ is handed out an end with a bang.... full review

Thumbs down, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...Especially the climax sequence that holds your attention through and through. Wish you could say that for the film itself, that you'd have to wade through, in order to reach the end. Gets quite pakau after a point, boss. You just want everyone to somehow get to the fort and get it over with.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads and loads including gory torture.
  • Language: Some words are muted, but cannot make out why so.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Bravery, deceit, passion, torture, disgust for the enemy, deep sense of patriotism—all things that make war.
  • General Look and Feel: Like any war film mounted on a grand scale with bad CGI

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Tanhaji - The Unsung Warrior - Cast, crew, links

Running time:
135 minutes

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