Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Kriti Sanon, Mohnish Bahl
Directors: Ashutosh Gowariker
Producer: Sunita Gowariker, Rohit Shelatkar
It’s not an easy story to tell but director Ashutosh Gowariker goes at it full throttle.
Warrior Sadashivrao, the loyal cousin of Nana Saheb the Peshwa king, has just won the battle for them and it’s time to celebrate the victory that has ended nizamshahi in the area. Sparks fly between the victorious Sadashivrao and Parvati who has mastered medicine in his absence.
But palace intrigue surfaces when Sadashiv is viewed with suspicion by the king’s wife Gopika who wants to ensure that her son Vishwas gets the throne and not the courageous Sadashiv Rao.
Hindustan would have worked out its equations within itself but for Afghan king Ahmed Shah Abdali. He is invited by a traitorous faction of the Delhi sultanate to help them fight the mighty Marathas.
Harking back to the 18th century, Ashutosh and his team of writers draw an elaborate picture of how Sadashivrao embarks on the ambitious journey of getting help from various rajas and nawabs to face the gigantic army of Abdali.
On this journey, Sadashiv reluctantly takes along enthusiastic nephew Vishwas, promising to protect him with his life. The Maratha warrior’s strategies and on-the-spur decisions to overcome every setback is plotted with diligence.
Sadashivrao’s strength is also his wife Parvati who turns out to be a partner in all situations.
The Battle of Panipat could have been avoided if Sadashivrao had weakly given in to Abdali’s demands. But since he stood his ground, the battle raged and was fought ferociously.
Ultimately, what does us in as always, is betrayal within Hindustan. And that’s what happens on this battlefield too.
Like Jodhaa Akbar, Ashutosh films Panipat lavishly and spectacularly. Whether it’s the songs or the battle ground, there’s great attention paid to detail and beautifully framed scenes.
The well-fed Arjun Kapoor may have seemed a curious choice but he does acquit himself credibly as Sadashiv. Sanjay Dutt brings life to Abdali. And Kriti Sanon has turned into a consummate actress, giving Parvati the namak she deserved.
Musically, Atul-Ajay seem to have been influenced by AR Rahman’s Jodhaa Akbar as the rhythm and beat of Azeem-o-Shaan is repeated here.
Verdict: So, is this going to be a blockbuster? It is a well-made film for sure. But it is inordinately long and after Bajirao Mastani, one isn’t sure if the audience is ready for another round of the Peshwas.