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Panipat : Unexpectedly turning out to be a Spectacular watch!!!

 

Star Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Sanjay Dutt, Mantra, Padmini Kolhapure, Zeenat Aman, Mohnish Bahl.

Music: Ajay Gogavale, Atul Gogavale.

Producers: Sunita Gowariker, Rohit Shelatkar, Alok Sinha.

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker.

 

It is said that Director is the one who is the real hero of the film and Panipat proves it to be all true indeed!! After the underwhelming 'Mohenjo Daro' (2016), writer-director Ashutosh Gowariker is back and boy-oh-boy he is surely in form!!!

The Panipat movie is a well researched and lavishly mounted account of the 1761 Battle of Panipat that took place between the Marathas led by Sadashivrao Bhau (Arjun Kapoor) and the Afghans led by Ahmad Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt). The movie is set in the time when the Maratha empire was increasing its influence in the Indian subcontinent & especially in the north beyond its stronghold in the Deccan. The movie begins with Sadashivrao tactfully defeating Nizam of Udgir. On victoriously returning back to pune, Nana Saheb Peshwa (Mohnish Bahl) showers him with praises. Meanwhile, Peshwa's wife Gopikabai (Padmini Kolhapure) begins to resent Sadashivrao as she sees the latter as a threat to her son Vishwarao's position as the next Peshwa. Meanwhile, Najib-Ud-Daula (Mantra), a Rohilla who was a Mughal serviceman forms an alliance with Afghan chieftain Ahmad Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt). He also convinces Shuja-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Oudh to join Abdali's forces against the Marathas. As the Afghan ruler sets out to conquer the takht of Hindustan, the Maratha Peshwa chooses Sadashiv to crush Abdali's lofty ambitions. What follows next is one of the largest and gruesome battles of the 18th century which has to be experienced on a big screen with some popcorns to munch on.

Panipat manages to do something that Bhansali, and the other directors of recent historical films, didn’t bother with – which is to give the viewer a sense of history playing out.

With Panipat, Ashutosh Gowariker has done what he is well known for i.e directing films set on a huge canvas while boasting of an opulent treatment. His magnificent vision of translating a chapter from our History textbooks into a full-fledged cinematic piece of craftsmanship is laudable.

Talking about the length of the movie: before you walk in for any Ashutosh Gowariker film, you need to understand that this man is an indulgent director. He really lays keen focus on set-up; establishing the character; The world the movie wants to transport you into. So eventually all of his movies turn out to be extremely long. Some of his celebrated films in the form of Swades (2004) and Lagaan (2001) were over 3 hours long, even his most forgettable film, What's Your Rashee? (2009) was also 3.5 hours long. Panipat suffers through what most Gowariker films experiences, a dragged narrative, the movie has a runtime of 2hrs and 51 minutes. In this changing instantaneous world, few might feel its too long but Hey! Making history takes time and  Ashutosh Gowariker and his team have taken sincere efforts to recreate one.

When it comes to historical films there is obvious creative freedom that the director takes so that the narrative can be engaging for a commercial movie-going experience and it is relatable and relevant for the audience today. Ashutosh has done it beautifully keeping the history intact.In terms of set and costumes design the film has laid immense focus in accurately depicting the Marathas as well as the Afghan empires.The Marathas are showcased with bright colours in every frame whereas the afghans in a gloomy dark and rustic colours. The attention to details with set design, costumes need to be appreciated.

The performances from the ensemble cast - including Marathi veterans - are top class. Even Arjun Kapoor (who was trolled mercilessly when the trailers were out) fits the physicality of Sadashiv Rao Bhau Peshwa and surprises everyone with a good act. Kriti Sanon hands down features in her careers best role as Parvati Bai. The actress lits up the screen every time she enters a scene. The actress gracefully delivers to the demand of the script and the character.

Sanjay Dutt is simply amazing in this film. He personifies everything evil in the world with his look – the dark costumes and eyes cold as stone staring you down, are frightening even for an adult audience.

Mohnish Bahl as Nana Saheb Peshwa, Mantra as Najib-ud-Daula, Padmini kolhapure as Gopika Bai have played their respective part brilliantly.

On the films few negatives count, there are few dialogues which are in pure Marathi so the non Maharashtrians or the ones who are not familiar with the language might struggle to understand. Musical duo Ajay-Atul fails to impress this time. Gowariker has always collaborated fabulously with AR Rahman and wishes had stuck to him.

Panipat is one of the better period dramas made in recent past.

The movie is slow-paced but never boring, it’s as if we are taken on a walk through history with this epic battle. Overall Panipat is way above expectations. Few things can be overlooked when someone delivers more than what is expected. Panipat is surely a must watch movie! Truly a visual treat for the people who love watching historical war films on the big screen.

 

Rating: ****

 

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