Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon
Director: Ashutosh Gowarikar
What’s it about:
A sincere retelling of what led to the third battle of Panipat in India in 1761 between the Maratha empire and Afghan emperor Ahmad Shah Abdali.
The word Panipat immediately invokes the feeling of war amongst us Indians. Everyone has grown up reading about it in the pages of their history books but not many remember the intricate details. Enter Ashutosh Gowarikar.
The filmmaker attempts to tell what exactly led to the battle, almost 80 years after Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s death. At the time, the Marathas were going strong and Pune was a hotbed of all the invasion activity. The Marathas dreamed of one nation under their rule and Delhi was still up for grabs. But the problem starts when a brutal king from across the border Ahmad Shah Abdali (played here by Sanjay Dutt) enters the fray. Dutt is probably the last from the breed of the 80s and 90s heroes who can pull off such a menacing character and he does with all his might. However, maybe it’s the writing or the performance, but he didn’t feel as menacing as Abdali really ought to be. Arjun Kapoor plays his part of the maverick Peshwa Sadashiv Rau Bhau with all honesty and makes it believable as best as he can even without a larger than life screen presence.
But it’s Kriti Sanon (as Parvati bai) who really grows along with her character. She beautifully nails the accent, the expressions and the layered strength of Parvati that is explored gradually.
Even with its long runtime, Gowarikar keeps you invested in the proceedings. Although, for the film of this scale, the computer graphics are surprisingly juvenile.
Panipat may not be as grand as Gowarikar’s previous historical outings (especially Jodha Akbar) but its beauty lies in its restraint. The measured tones in all aspects of the film and the simplicity in the writing, makes Panipat, a battle worth watching.