Movie Review: Rama Madhav

रमा माधव:नितांत सुंदर प्रेम कहाणी
The 2014 Marathi film "Rama Madhav" by actress-filmmaker Mrinal Kulkarni explores the era of the Peshwa period and particularly from the angles of women. The film is an interesting take on life of Peshwa through a young girl's eyes. The film begins with a 12 year old Rama hailing from a middle-class background in Miraj and being married to the Peshwa prince, Madhavrao during her childhood. The film is a royal love story and it is set against the backdrop of politics, war and the rise of a new era. The film follows the life and coming-of-age Rama and as they grow older, the political scenario changes with the Marathas losing to Ahmedshah Abdali, the Afghan prince in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, their scheming uncle Raghunathrao who plots Madhavrao's death on not being selected as the heir for the Peshwa throne and the subsequent arrival of the British. 

Shot extensively on sets resembling the Shaniwarwada of Pune, the art direction by Nitin Desai once again stands out. "Rama Madhav" by Mrinal Kulkarni is a film that acquaints us with a lesser known story of selfless love between Rama and her husband Madhavrao Peshwa-I. It is a trip back into the yore with stunning sets, heavy jewellery clad women, finely sketched characters and excellent costume designs. It must be mentioned that the track between Rama and her coming of age is well handled into a narrative which also talks about the political implications for the Marathas. The film's cinematography has been done by Rajiv Jain. The excellence and the fine artistic touch in scenes shot inside the Shaniwarwada in Pune are hard to miss. With a lot of low-angle to mid level shots, the Shaniwarwada looks enormous. The film is rich with interesting characters such as Anandibai (Raghunathrao's wife) whose stories have often been skimmed through in history textbooks. 

Based on the novel "Swami" by Ranjit Desai, Rama Madhav is a rich film with excellent music by the late. Anand Modak. The songs are quite enjoyable and transport us back into the era. The film also sees Ravindra Mankani and filmmaker Mrinal Kulkarni reprising their roles as Nanasaheb and Gopikabai, the roles they played in the TV series "Swami". A special mention to Alok Rajwade as Madhavrao who shines out in a role with his thorough dedication and of course to both the actresses portraying Ramabai (Shruti Karlekar and Parna Pethe) for doing their roles so well.  I want to congratulate Mrinal Kulkarni for successfully accomplishing a movie which involves a lot of research and for living up to the task of completing a period film. 

My only complaint is that while the first half keeps the viewer hooked, the second half tends to loosen and it results in a running time of nearly 147 minutes, which is long by today's standards. Nonetheless, Mrinal Kulkarni's "Rama Madhav" is a commendable effort. Do watch it for its grandeur and also to get acquainted to a part of the Peshwa rule which has been forgotten by history. 


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