All you need to know about Tanaji Malusare, the ‘unsung warrior’ played by Ajay Devgn
Here’s a primer on the life and times of Tanaji Malusare, the brave military leader who challenged the Mughal Empire
Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior is an upcoming period drama film starring Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, and Kajol. Directed by Om Raut, the film is based on the life of Tanaji Malusare. While most of us identify Tanaji as the man who fought alongside Shivaji Maharaj, not much is popularly known about him. So let’s take a look at the life and times of the man who challenged the Mughal Empire.
Born in the 1600s in Godavli, Javali Taluka (Satara, Maharashtra, India) Tanaji was a brave and fierce warrior. He was a commander of Maratha ruler Shivaji Maharaj. The legendary warrior fought alongside Maratha leader Shivaji Maharaj in various battles throughout the years.
In 1670 when Shivaji Maharaj summoned him for a meeting, Tanaji put the wedding plan of his son Rayaba on hold and went to meet him. On hearing Shivaji's plan to recapture Kondhana fort near Pune from the Mughals, Tanaji took the uphill charge of the campaign and started his preparations.
The then Kondana fort was controlled by Udaybhan Rathod, a Rajput officer appointed by Mughal general Jai Singh I. With the will to recapture the fort under any circumstance, Tanaji with an army of 800 people marched on to conquer Kondana fort. The ace strategist along with a troop of 300 were said to have scaled the fort from the western side on a dark night with the help of a domesticated Bengal monitor lizard (called ghorpad in Marathi) named Yashwanti to which they were said to have tied ropes and sent crawling up top to the precipice of the fort. After two failed attempts, Tanaji and his men successfully scaled the steep hill fortress.
Once they were inside and after opening the Kalyan Darwaza, Tanaji, his men and another detachment of 500 troops headed by Suryaji (his younger brother) attacked the army holding down the fort. Fierce combat took place between the forces of Tanaji and Udaybhan. During the battle, Tanaji broke his shield but he continued fighting by tying his upper garment over his defending hand in order to ward off Udaybhan's blows.
After a lengthy fight, Tanaji Malusare lost his life, Shelar Mama avenged Tanaji by killing Udaybhan. Suryaji defeated the remaining garrison and took over the Kondana fort, now known as Sinhagad. When Shivaji Maharaj heard about the valor and demise of his close friend and commander Tanaji, the Maratha chief’s said "gad alaa pan sinha gelaa" which translates to "the fort is captured but the lion (Tanaji Malusare) has died." Shivaji Maharaj then renamed the fort from Kondhana fort to Sinhagad in the name of his former commander and as a testimony of his sacrifice, his statue stands tall at the fort.