Producers- Nittin Keni, Pradyot Pendharkar, Anil Narayanrao Varkhade, Digpal Lanjekar and Chinmay Mandlekar and Digpal Lanjekar

Director-Digpal Lanjekar

Star Cast- Chinmay Mandlekar, Mrunal Kulkarni, Varsha Usgaonkar,Sameer Adhikari, Mukesh Rishi,Vaibhav Mangle, Mrunmay Deshpande and Ravindra Mankani

Genre- Historical

Platform of Release- Theatrical

Rating- ***

Impressive though long!

After three Marathi movies like Farzand, Fatteshikast and Pawankhind, Sher Shivaraj is the fourth in Digpal Lanjekar’s series of films on the warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The film Sher Shivraj brings alive the story of Shivaji Maharaj’s triumph over Afzalkhan, and the Maratha army’s meritorious win in the Battle of Pratapgad.

The film is a dramatic retelling of Shivaji Maharaj (Chinmay Mandlekar) and his Maratha army’s first major triumph, at the battle of Pratapgad, which also resulted in the death of Afzalkhan, the general of the Bijapur Sultanate’s army. The story of Afzalkhan’s tyranny and his attempt to kill Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is too well known but the way the actor-director Digpal Lanjekar has tackled it, it is quite fascinating and altogether an entirely different experience.

The film sets out to show how Shivaji Maharaj, despite a limited army and weapons, dares to deal with a monster-like enemy with brilliant strategies. In Bijapur’s court of Adilshahi, the mission to catch the Maratha king is announced and it’s Afzalkhan (Mukesh Rishi) who takes up the task in his hands. Afzalkhan leaves Bijapur along with his huge army, destroying on the way temples and sacred places to irk Shivaji Maharaj. On the other hand, Shivaji keeps his calm and plans how to handle his enemy while he shifts his position to Pratapgarh fort despite a limited army and weapons, and dares to deal with a monster-like enemy with brilliant strategies.

As far as performances go, I should say that Chinmay Mandlekar has brilliantly mastered the task of enacting the role of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and in this film too, he stands out among the huge star cast. The next actor to impress is none other than Mukesh Rishi who has been cast as Afzalkhan. The seasoned Bollywood and Tollywood actor has rendered a menacing performance. Other actors who shine are Sameer Dharmadhikari, Ajay Purkar, Mrinal Kulkarni, Vaibhav Mangle, Isha Keskar and the director Digpal Lanjekar himself in the role of Bahirji Naik. Unfortunately for her, a seasoned actress like Varsha Usgaonkar has been wasted with her immobile role as Badi Begum. The songs are good, particularly Shivba Raja, which is choreographed well though it reminds you of the song Sittharala Sirapadu from Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.

On the whole, the merits of the film far outweighs its negative points and though it  drags on and on, it is watchable, especially if you do not know the history of Afzal Khan and Shivaji Maharaj


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Jyothi Venkatesh

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