Written & Directed by Abhijeet Shirish Deshpande
Don’t go by the title. Writer-director Abhijeet Deshpande’s Har Har Mahadev, in Marathi and in a dubbed Hindi version, is not mythological. It is a full blown historical with amazing staying power.
Har Har Mahadev grips you from the first frame to the last. At 2 hours 40 minutes, the plot still succeeds in being flab-free. The narrative moves at a businesslike pace, brusque, barbaric, beguiling, and believable; this is the story of the bond between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his chief of army Baji Prabhu Deshpande.
The two actors playing the two main parts, Sharad Kelkar and Subodh Bhave, are compelling in the way they draw their characters. Kelkar is a well-known actor in Hindi cinema as well. But Subodh Bhave, largely restricted to Marathi cinema, is a revelation. He brings to the table a persuasive periodicity. This is an actor who looks completely comfortable in Shivaji’s costume. The same goes for Kelkar as Deshpande who, in the final blood-soaked battle, is a force of Nature.
The rest of the cast too, is so much in character they seem to be born to be part of this historic historical. More power to these real actors who make the dramatized conflicts from our past history look not only believable but also engrossing from the first frame till the last.
Technical aspects, including the production value, are first-rate. It is hard to believe that so much of an epic vision can be achieved in such a limited budget.
Go for this disarming tryst with history with open arms . It is an experience of a lifetime. Powerful and persuasive, with some sequences designed to cause goosebumps.