Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon
Ashutosh Gowariker
epic war/ period drama

The third war of Panipat is not something we Indians would ever forget, it is often referred to the final act that wedged the British and the East India Company right in the heart of India. While the valor of the Maratha warriors cannot be doubted, the end is already known to all.

When Ashutosh Gowariker decided to make a period film with only 100 Crores budget everyone wanted to see how he would pull it off. The first cost-cutting attempt seemed to be the casting of Arjun Kapoor. No one really could have imagined him playing Sadashiv Bhau, and yet we saw a clean-shaven, bald as an egg Arjun Kapoor before we could even blink.

Sadashiv Rao Bhau (Arjun Kapoor) is the nephew of the Peshwa (Mohnish Bahl) Much to his aunt, Gopika Bai's dismay, he has always remained the more favoured one. Eventually, he becomes the chieftain. Finds love in Parvatibai  (Kriti Sanon). While his position in the Maratha politics is secure, the clan and Hindustan (pre-independence India) is in a precarious spot. To begin with there are the Mughals and now, Afghanistan's dreaded Ahmad Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt) eyes to conquer all. When the Marathas accompanied by some pilgrims are attacked by Abdali's troop. By troop we mean lakhs of soldiers which sorely outnumbered the Maratha lines. With the war and thousands of pilgrims to care for, the Marathas are torn apart.

The screenplay by Ashutosh Gowariker obviously has a predictable storyline, but the director scores in making his grand statements through his visuals. With period cinema, it is almost always the visuals that catch the eye. Reliving an era that we have only read about has a charm that needs to be cashed in by filmmakers. Thus the extravagant budgets, the elaborate costumes. With Ashutosh Gowariker insisting on cutting the usual budget for such an visual treat by half, apprehensions are bound to plague. Given the flack the director got for the SFX, during Mohenjo-Daro, Gowariker seems to have pulled his socks for Panipat. The battle scenes are breathtaking, and despite the dreaded climax you cannot seem to take your eyes off the scene. It's just the background score that jars you a bit.

Impressive graphics aren't going to win the battle, that's where the actors come in. Arjun Kapoor for all the apprehensions shown by the viewers delivers a decent performance. It's unfortunate that he will be judged on basis of others such as Ranveer Singh whose career-best involve period drama. The parallels between Panipat and Bajirao Mastani are inevitable. The costumes, the look, the diction will all be compared. And Bajirao Mastani being the first of its kind will have the edge. Kriti Sanon's Parvatibai will remind you of Priyanka Chopra and her act will remind you of everything that she has already done, yet she looks ethereal and wins points for the same. The show is stolen solely by Sanjay Dutt. His brief appearance in the film is the most effective presence. In addition, the music by Atul Ajay has the same haunting romance, as almost all their work, but they aren't hummable. All and all the war epic is nice but not as impressive as most of the genre.

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