During weekends, I spend part of the afternoon at a local coffee shop in the downtown area. It’s a great spot to meet friends and acquaintances and getting to know about the latest events. One of the news items that caught my attention was about an upcoming movie I had always hoped would be made. It is a film called “Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior”. Actor Ajay Devgn will play the role of Tanhaji Malusare who served as one of Shivaji’s generals in the 17th century. It is essentially a war film but reports claim that it will also capture the relationship between the Maratha warrior and his spouse – which might be essayed by Kajol.
As a child, Maharaj Shivaji and his partner and great friend Tanhaji were a favourite of mine. I even have a small statue of Shivaji at home. Many people mistakenly assumed me for a Marathi.
Before I went to the US for higher studies, I briefly worked with Kinetic Engineering Ltd in Pune. We were involved in a rural marketing campaign during which we travelled through Maharashtra and got to visit some historical places. One such place is Umrath which is in Raigad District. I got the chance to visit the place where Tanhaji lived and even met a few of his descendants. They told us some interesting stories and ballads about the mighty warrior and showed us the spear Tanhaji used to fight with which was found in the jungles about 300 years ago. My colleagues and I could barely lift it with both hands.
Tanhaji is renowned for the Battle of Sinhagad in 1670 where he fought against Mughal fort keeper Udaybhan Rathore, a formidable Rajput warrior. In 1665, the Treaty of Purandar required Shivaji to give up the Maratha fort Kondhana to the Mughals. Since the fort was of extreme strategic importance, Shivaji did not want to give it up. He assigned the task of reconquering Kondhana to Tanhaji, the only one he believed could take on the dangerous task. Undaunted by the terrifying nature of his mission, the lion-hearted Tanhaji vowed either to accomplish it or die in the process.
According to legend, Tanhaji used his pet monitor lizard (called ghorpad in Marathi) to scale a wall of the fort and launch a surprise attack. While this helped them breach the fort, they were soon outnumbered and Tanhaji was killed in the process. Angered by the death of their leader, the Marathas charged the fort again under his brother Suryaji’s charge and won.
In the end, it was a great victory for the Marathas, a battle fought with great power, determination and focus. But there was no celebration in their camp. The news of the victory was conveyed to Shivaji Maharaj, who rushed to the fort eager to congratulate Tanhaji only to see the brave man’s slain body. Shivaji Maharaj renamed the fort and called it Sinhagad (Lion Fort) in honour of the great warrior. Some claim that after Tanhaji’s death, he said, “Gadh ala, pan Sinha gela (We have gained the fort, but lost a lion).”
I am very eager to watch “The Unsung Warrior” and hope it presents an authentic narrative.