This big budget period drama starring Arjun Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt which retells the story of the Third Battle of Panipat is an honest and commendable attempt.
- Rating: 3 / 5
- Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
- Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Sanjay Dutt, Zeenat Aman, Padmini Kolhapure
To be honest, I was sceptical at the beginning. When big budget period films like Bajirao-Mastani , Padmaavat and Bahubali set the box-office on fire, plenty of films on the same trendlines were announced by the filmmakers in haste. In 2019 alone multiple period films released which Kagana Ranaut’s Manikarnika (based on Rani Laxmi Bai) , Akshay Kumar’s Kesari (on Battle of Saragarhi) and South Indian Superstar Chiranjeevi’s Sye Raa Narsimha Reddy. No doubt these films proved to be successful but they majorly relied on star power and to an extent the content was compromised. Ashutosh Gowariker announcing Panipat after a disastrous Mohenjodaro (with Arjun Kapoor in lead who was not having good days on the box-office) was definitely a big risk. But, all thanks to Gowariker’s right grip on direction, Panipat has turned out to be a perfect period drama.
The story begins in 1760 where the Nizamshahi’s rule is over and the Marathas, headed by Sadashivrao Bhau (played by Arjun Kapoor) are ruling the major parts of India. The Marathas have reached their territorial peak. Sadashiv who is the cousin of Nanasaheb Peshwa (played by Mohnish Bahl) is tgiven the responsibility of handling the treasury. Owing to a rift between the Mughals and the Marathas, Najib-ud-daulah teams up with an afghani ruler Ahmed Shah Abdali (played by Sanjay Dutt) who sets off to India to with 1 lakh soldiers to fight with the Marathas. What happens next forms the major plot of the film.
It might come as a surprise but Arjun Kapoor’s performance is stellar. He completely owns Sadashiv Bhau with his perfect accent and posture. He looks fierce without being loud which is a rarity in period films. With Panipat, Arjun has definitely given his career’s best performance. Kriti Sanon, playing Sadashiv Bhau’s wife Parvati Bai, is improving with every film of hers. Whole theatre went into cheers when she picked up the sword to fight in one of the battle scenes. Sanjay Dutt tries to remind you of Ranveer Singh’s Khilji but fails miserably. Padmini Kolhapuri and Zeenat Aman are there but had nothing much to do. Special mention to Mantra playing Najib-ud-daulah who is really impressive and shines bright.
The best part of Panipat is that in spite of having a runtime of 2 hours and 50 minutes, the film never loses its vision and keeps you engaged in the narrative. Some of the scenes give you a reminiscence of Gowariker’s magnum-opus Lagaan. With Panipat, Ashutosh Gowariker is definitely back in his game. The war scenes are staged well and never become repetitive (though music by Ajay-Atul is a let down and doesn’t give a required high).
Despite minute flaws, Panipat is recommended for its sincere attempt at highlighting one of the major events that shaped the history of India and for celebrating the courage and bravery of the great Marathas.