Shivaji is a significant chapter in Indian history, so it was just a matter of time before a historical based on him was aired on the small screen. Colors’ ‘Veer Shivaji’ attempts to bring the exploits of the Maratha warrior and his fight for Swaraj albeit in a dramatised and stylised avatar.
The makers have taken many cinematic liberties and twisted history to suit the palate of today’s viewer who is accustomed to loud background music, elaborate costumes and distorted facts. Little wonder then, while it’s laudable on the part of the channel and the makers to bring Shivaji into the realm of viewing for children, it’s equally true that the show doesn’t stay true to history. For instance, the Marathas never wore sacred threads, yet in one scene Shahaji was shown wearing one! Then there was another scene which had Sambhaji Raje and Shivba engaging in a duel to win the confidence of their father… playing to the gallery, anyone?
Then of course, the expensive and elaborate costumes that the women wear in the show. Jijabai looks like a goddess in every scene replete with gold jewellery, choker, nose ring, bangles, arm-bands and brocade-heavy saris.
Historicals are a big draw and so is the tendency to make it more TRP-friendly. As a result, you have to make do with histrionics, heavy-duty dialogues and a larger-than-life portrayal of everything and everyone. And unfortunately, what could have been a realistic portrait of the brave warrior, turns out to be an exaggerated, filmi interpretation. Luckily, the performances — Shilpa Tulaskar as Jijabai is perfect and the child stars in the roles of a young Shivba (Paras Arora) and his bride, Saibai (Palak Jain) — salvage the show. For those who have not learnt of Shivaji in school, it’s still a good introduction to the man and the mother who made him a Chatrapati. We love the warm relationship between Shivba and the righteous Jijabai who steered her son’s life and shaped his ideals to become the great Maratha. The sets and the production values are another plus. Now only, if they stick to history. And yes, the title could have been Chatrapati Shivaji, haven’t we known him by that name all our lives!
It’s for those who don’t mind their history lessons with a generous pinch of salt.
BY: Kshama Rao