December 8, 2022

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An epic retelling of an interesting chapter from Maratha history

After Farzand and Fatteshikast, Digpal Lanjekar’s first two movies in the series of films dedicated to the bravery of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Maratha army, the writer-director returns with a bang in the third film of the series – Pawankhind.

The film, which was delayed due to the pandemic, is based on one of the most famous incidents from Maratha history – the Battle of Pavan Khind. At the outset, the makers make it clear that this is not a complete documentation of the battle, its prelude or aftermath, but a cinematic recreation meant to showcase the bravery of the Marathas involved in this battle. So, there are cinematic liberties taken in this retelling, but the crux of the story is maintained.

The story about the Battle of Pavan Khind (earlier known as Ghod Khind) and the bravery displayed by Bajiprabhu Deshpande and the Bandal army of 600 against the Siddhi Masud and the soldiers of the Adilshahi Sultanate is well known across Maharashtra. The result – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s successful escape from Panhalgad to Vishalgad. But, does Lanjekar succeed in recreating this important chapter from Marathi history on screen? Absolutely!

Pawankhind is a thorough cinematic experience that is fit for the big screen. The film is ambitious in trying to explore this story in two and a half hours, but it largely succeeds in creating the right build up and ambience that leads to a fantastic climax. From laying out the reason and the characters involved in it, to the siege of Panhala by Siddhi Jauhar, the escape plan and the actual battle, Pawankhind lays out all its cards in front you chronologically, whilst inducing a dose of history, drama and even comic relief in between. The film doesn’t miss out on giving due credit to the majority of the generals who helped Shivaji Maharaj realise his dream of Swarajya.

As for the actors, it’s not an easy task to bring some of the most well –known names from the Marathi film and TV industry together in a multi-starrer of this scale. But the casting department and makers pull off this feat. Chinmay Mandlekar as Shivaji Maharaj, Ajay Purkar as Bajiprabhu Deshpande, Sameer Dharmadhikari as Siddhi Jauhar, Aastad Kale as Siddhi Masud, Ankit Mohan as Rayaji Bandal, Mrinal Kulkarni as Maasaheb Jijau, Akshay Waghmare as Koyaji Bandal; every actor has given his best to their roles. Even the supporting cast has some memorable performances from Kshitee Jog as Badi Begum, Harish Dudhade as Bahirji Naik, Shivraj Waichal as Harpya, Rishi Saxena as Rustam Zaman. Another notable performance that stands out is that of Ajinkya Nanaware as Shiva Kashid, the man who resembled Shivaji Maharaj and sacrificed himself for his king. The scenes involving Ajinkya and Chinmay are bound to bring tears to your eyes.

While Pawankhind excels in storytelling, the technical aspects, though good, could have been better. The background score overpowers dialogues in some important scenes, and the action choreography in some scenes fails to make the cut. However, all said and done, the entire team has done its best to make this a big screen experience. Maybe with a bigger budget, these things can be ironed out in the following films of Lanjekar’s series.

For now, Pawankhind is a great watch, and at the cinemas only.