Ajay Devgn on Friday bagged the National Award for Best Actor at the 68th National Film Awards for 2020 for his titular role in ‘Tanhaji: the Unsung Warrior’. He shared the honours with Suriya, who got it for “Soorarai Pottru”.
Directed by Om Raut, the film is based on the story of Tanaji Malusare, the 17th-century Maratha warrior and general of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It narrates the conquest of the erstwhile Kondana, now Sinhagad, defeating the forces of Mughal commander Udaybhan Rathod.
The film portrays the incident when Tanaji led his troops to recapture the Kondana Fort set near present day Pune.
In 1665, as Mughal forces led by the Rajput commander Jai Sinh I besieged Shivaji at the Purandar fort in Deccan, the latter was forced to sign the Treaty of Purandar. Under the agreement, Shivaji had to hand over important forts to the Mughals, including Purandar, Lohagad, Tung, Tikona, and Sinhagad (Kondhana).
As part of the treaty, Shivaji had agreed to visit Agra to meet the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, which he did in 1666. Here, Shivaji was placed under house arrest, but was able to make a daring escape back to Maharashtra. Upon his return, Shivaji began to recapture the forts ceded to the Mughals under the treaty.
To retake Kondhana (Sinhagad), the Marathas deputed Tanaji Malusare (played by Devgn in the film), a trusted general of Shivaji, and his brother Suryaji. The fort at the time was held by the Mughal commander Uday Bhan Rathod (played by Saif Ali Khan).
In the early hours of February 4, 1670, Tanaji with around 300 soldiers successfully captured the fort, but lost his own life.
Shivaji, who is known to have grieved Tanaji’s loss heavily, had the fort Kondhana renamed ‘Sinhagad’ in the general’s honour (‘Sinh’ meaning ‘lion’). A bard named Tulsidas was commissioned to write a ‘powada’ (ballad) for Tanaji, and this literary work continues to be popular in Maharashtra.