I noticed many people were confused about the actual story of Bajirao Mastani. Who is Kashibai? What is her role? Is she the first wife? And many more questions people have kept asking me. Fans are confused when they hear their idol is approached for Mastani. Surprised when a rival actress has been approached for Kashibai. Who’s role is bigger and should they be happy or upset?
Therefore I decided to post the actual story of Bajirao Mastani for all of you.
Baji Rao Ballal Balaji Bhat (Yes I know it’s a very long name) was a respectable general who led troops during several wars in the 18th century. He was also a ‘Peshwa’, which is basically a Prime Minister.
He belonged to a Brahmin caste and everyone in his community had devoted their lives to priestly and other administrative duties. However, Baji Rao didn’t go this way and decided the become in charge of the troops that would go out on wars with other kingdoms and emperors. He managed to expand the Maratha Empire.
Baji Rao was married to the much loved Kashibai. Kashibai had a great equation with Baji Rao’s mother, Radhabai (She is the Kumud in this story, like every SLB film there has to be a Kumud, once upon a time Rekha’s name popped up for this role) and his brother. They lead a happy life and they had two sons together.
The problem starts here:
Baji Rao falls in love with Mastani who was a Muslim girl. Her mother was a Persian called Ruhaani Bai. Ruhaani Bai was a court dancer. Her dad was the Maharaja of Chhatrasal. When his kingdom got threatened he asked the help of general Baji Rao who saved his family and kingdom. He gave his daughter Mastani as a present to him for the hard work he had carried out.
The other story of Mastani goes as follows and is more likely to be adapted by Bhansali:
Mastani was just like her mother a dancer in Chhatrasal’s Palace. When he asked Baji Rao for help, Baji Roa met Mastani and fell in love and married her. Mastani was a fit girl, knew how to dance and sing and was also skilled in horse riding and spear throwing. Bhansali is looking for a fit girl that can manage difficult dancing sequences I assume.
Just when no one expected it he decided to take her as his second wife. She gets to live with her in-laws in the Shaniwar Wada palace. Baji Rao’s mother, Radhabai was furious. How could he neglect Kashibai just like that? Not only his family, but everyone in Baji Rao’s Brahmin community was unhappy.
Baji Rao made a lake for Mastani to bath in (Bhansali might make a song here) where she would bath with her friends.
Baji Rao made Kashibai and Mastani pregnant around the same time. Tensions rose high in the palace and both gave birth to healthy babies within months after each other. In the meantime Kashibai was kept being sidelined and Mastani’s influence in the palace grew. However, Mastani’s son was never considered a Hindu by the orthodox Hindu Pune community and was brought up as a Muslim and named Shamsher Bahadur.
Suddenly a devastated accident happened. Kashibai’s child dies at a very young age and Mastani keeps getting more attention and influence. Mastani was younger than Kashibai and seeing her with a healthy son while Kashibai’s child just died made her very unhappy. Not only develop the ladies some sort of jealousy, but Baji Rao’s mother (Radhabai) and brother (Chimnaji Appa) try to make Kashibai hate Mastani more and more.
This results in many plans to kill Mastani which were mainly led by her own mother-in-law and brother-in-law. Kashibai gets also influenced and takes part in the plans and gets blamed for them when they fail. Baji Rao and Kashibai’s son Balaji also tried to talk to Mastani and explain to her to leave. Mastani refused and when Baji Rao was away he decided to put her under house arrest.
Following this incident Baji Rao made a corner in the palace for Mastani, Mastani Mahal, and a separate doorway for her called Mastani Darwaza. Eventually he made a separate residence for her away from his family.
Baji Rao died of a sudden fever in Khargon during one of his trips towards Dehli with the company of 100.000 troops. Both Kashibai and Mastani go to Khargon to see his body. Baji Roa was cremated and Mastani commited suicide by drinking poising after this. A different version of the story says Mastani jumped in Baji Rao’s funeral pyre and burnt to ashes with him (Sati). Her son Shamsher Bahadur is only six years old around this time. Kashibai decides to take Mastani’s son and bring him up as one of her own.
I hope this makes things clearer for most people. Note, this is not Bhansali’s story. I wrote this, based on the information I have about these historical figures. The film might be completely different as you never know.
Posted 22nd March 2014 by Shakuntela