Panipat Movie Review:
Ashutosh Gowariker may not be able to do grandeur like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, but he can do war! Yet this movie lacks somewhere and fails to garner the attention it could have 10 years ago.
Comparing Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Ashutosh Gowariker is fair. They both have mastered the art of historical period drama. However Sanjay Leela Bhansali's grandeur is a tough nut to crack, and probably this is where Panipat loses the race.
Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat tugs on the nostalgic strings of BR Chopra’s Mahabharata or Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana. He has everything that we saw in The Great Maratha, which could have been an advantage, given we lap up everything 90s these days. The problem, however, is that our eyes are also 25 years mature. And now, Gowariker’s presentation seems lackluster, borderline cartoonish due to terrible CGI work, and eventually, just not magnanimous enough.
Talking about characters, when Sanjay Dutt
’s Ahmad Shah Abdali reminds you of Ranveer’s Alauddin Khilji, the crease of your brow. You eventually forgive it because Dutt owns the character and at no point does he allow Khilji to seep into Abdali.
tries, but he fails to deliver the whole of what was expected of him. He forever falls short. His speeches fail to arouse any emotion, even though Sadashiv Rao Bhau was historically known to be a charismatic leader, only second to Bajirao.
shines even in a relatively small role. Her eyes speak, both in grief and happiness. Her character is strong and draws strength from the pureness of her love for Sadashiv. Even if that means to pick up a sword in the hour of need and discover an accidental warrior in herself.
What turns off the audience is the language and history of the film. Ranveer’s Bajirao had a Marathi twang that the actor honed. Arjun remains a Punjabi Munda throughout, save a few "ho," "me yeto" and "maiti mala." None of this is Arjun’s fault though, for Abdali’s limited Urdu is barely Lucknawi, forget Afghani.
And the urge to portray the Marathas as the undefeated heroes (even after they were clearly defeated) creates a sense of dismay.
We can watch the film in the theatres for its war sequences and the fact that a historical drama is no fun at home. But otherwise, Panipat fails to deliver what it could have.