The year 2019 has seen the release of big budget period action films and all of them have been well received by the audience, such as MANIKARNIKA – THE QUEEN OF JHANSI, KESARI and SYE RAA NARGISMA REDDY. Now the final 2019 film in this league, PANIPAT, is all set for release, and promises to be a grand and entertaining affair. So does PANIPAT manage to give the audience a good time? Or fails? Let us analyze.
PANIPAT is the story of one of the most important chapters in history. The year is 1760. Marathas under Sadashivrao Bhau (Arjun Kapoor) destroyed the Udgiri Fort in present-day southern Maharashtra and thus ended the Nizamshahi rule for good. The Marathas now occupied most of India. Nana Saheb Peshwa (Mohnish Bahl) is very happy with the event and especially with Sadashiva. Nana Saheb’s wife Gopika Bai (Padmini Kolhapure), however, feels insecure about her husband’s hobby for Sadashiva. At his insistence, Sadasiva is given the responsibility of handling the treasury. Sadashiv is surprised at this development as he has always been a warrior. Yet he accepts this change of duty. He also meets to spend time with Parvati Bai (Kriti Sanon), a physician. Both fall in love and get married. Meanwhile, while examining the finances, Sadashiva finds that the states of the north are not paying dues to the Marathas, as he had promised. A message is then sent to all these kings, including the Mughal Empire Alamgir II (SM Zaheer). Najib-ud-daula (mantra) is a part of the Mughal court and is asked to leave. He is so disappointed with the high rank of the Marathas that he decides to defeat them once and for all. To do this, he knocks on the door of Ahmed Shah Abdali (Sanjay Dutt), the Afghan ruler of Kandahar. At first, Abdali decides when he realizes that Najib-ud-Daula is seeking his help for his selfishness. But then he also learns that if he manages to capture a large part of India, it will add to his skills. So he left for India. The Marathas come to know about Abdali’s plans and are liaising with 1 lakh soldiers. Although Sadashiv feels that despite the small number of soldiers, Marathas can still defeat Abdali. Nana Saheb assigns Sadashiv with the responsibility of heading north to stop Abdali with 40,000 soldiers. Along the way, Sadashiv seeks help from various states and the Forge alliance. Most of them agree to be on his side and provide an army. Shuja-ud-daula (Kunal R Kapoor) is Awadh’s wazir and Sadashiv also asks for his help. In return, he agrees to make Abdali the wazir of Delhi after defeating him. Shuja-ud-daula demanded this agreement in writing. The Marathas agreed to do so and said that they would return in a few days with written assurance. In the interim, Abdali’s man meets Shuja-ud-daula. They also propose that they be made the Wazir of Delhi and more than that, they have to make a written agreement with them. Shuja-ud-daula therefore joins Abdali. This is a setback for Sadashiv as Shuja-ud-Daula’s alliance would have helped him a lot. Still, he agrees to fight, come what may. What happens next makes the rest of the film.
The story of Chandrasekhar Dhavalikar, Ranjit Bahadur, Aditya Rawal and Ashutosh Gowariker is close to reality. It is laudable that Gowarikar and his team chose this subject as it is one of the important battles in Indian history. Also, many viewers would not know that Marathas were so strong at one time in India. Therefore, it is an entertaining as well as enlightening experience for them. The screenplay of Chandrasekhar Dhavalikar, Ranjit Bahadur, Aditya Rawal and Ashutosh Gowariker is fine for the most part, but not consistently. Some scenes do not punch and, therefore, bring down the effect. Although some scenes are exceptionally written. Ashok Chakradhar’s dialogues are nothing great.
Ashutosh Gowariker’s direction is clear for the most part. He is in form after a long time. He very beautifully presents the Maratha Empire in its glory. The fight scenes in the second part maintain interest. It is also noteworthy that there is a scene of rift between Sadashiv and Abdali. But the politics and problems faced by the Marathas in getting help in fighting Abdali should have been better explained. In addition, the film could have been more commercial and comprehensive because there were many scenes that had that kind of appeal. Length is another issue. At 2.53 hours, the film is quite long, especially in the first half. Another major problem with the film is that the tagline is ‘The Great Betrayal’. This bit unfolds in an important scene in the climax. But its construction is very weak. Therefore, the audience is not really shocked when the man who commits ray ‘great betrayal’ shows his true intentions. Therefore, the effect is diluted.
“I disagree that Abdali was a VILLAINOUS character …”: Sanjay Dutt | Arjun | Masterpiece | Ashutosh | Panipat
Panpt Udgiri begins on a proper note with a view of the proclamation of the fort. The film falls a bit when the focus is on politics happening in Shani Vada, Pune. Also, Sadashiv-Parvati Bai’s romantic track is decent but nothing extraordinary. Abdali’s entry is quite interesting and it sparks interest. The film dips once again and the interest rises only during the interest point. This is an excellent sequence, when Sadashiv and Abdali come face to face and it sets the mood for the second half. The post hiatus part of Sadashiva begins with a brilliant plan to capture Delhi’s Red Fort. This sequence is quite important, because the audience may not be aware of this chapter of history. Ashutosh Gowariker is best for the finale though. The True Sequence thrills the audience after a 30-minute climax. The betrayal bit could have been better explained though. Abdali’s final scene is fine and is a great way to end the film.
Arjun Kapoor gives his hundred percent. His physique comes in handy for this character and he actually looks like a ferocious warrior who can instill fear in enemies. He is also very good in non-action scenes. But in some scenes, he is a little different. This is especially in the romantic parts. Sanjay Dutt also tries his best to keep the menacing but partially successful. A good effort, anyway! Kriti Sanon is quite confident and gives an impressive performance. He is not in the film. She has a very important part and will love her action scene! Mohnish Bahl is reliable, but he rarely comes there in the second half. Sahil Salathia (Shamsher Bahadur; Bajirao and Mastani’s son) leaves a tremendous impression and it is great to see that he got such an important part. The same goes for Nawab Shah (Ibrahim Khan Gardi). Mantra understands his character and brings jealousy and immaturity. Zeenat Aman (Sakina Begum) excels in cameos and her scene with Kriti Sanon is one of the film’s high points. Other artists who do well are Padmini Kolhapure, Kunal R Kapoor, SM Zaheer, Milind Gunaji (Dattaji Shinde) Abhishek Nigam (Vishwas Rao), Ravindra Anjani (Malhar Rao Holkar) and Suhasini Mule (Sadashiv’s grandmother), present Radhika Bai. .
The music of Ajay-Atul is very poor. None of the songs are memorable. ‘Mard Maratha’ Filmed well but the song is very monotonous. Same goes for ‘Mann Mein Shiva’. ‘Sapna Hai Sach Hai’ There is a lack of soul. Ajay-Atul’s background score is better and exhilarating.
Muralitharan CK’s cinematography is superb and captures the fight and other scenes effectively. Raju Khan’s choreography is worth watching ‘Mann Mein Shiva’. Nitin Chandrakant Desai’s production design is, as expected, grand and visually stunning. However, some sets are similar to JODHAA AKBAR  And PREM RATAN DHAN PAYO . Neeta Lulla’s costumes are quite authentic and in sync with the bygone era. The makeup and hair design of Vikram Gaikwad is very detailed. The action of Abbas Ali Mogul makes for a great watch and is very much worn or veil without any bloodshed. VFX is performed by Ashutosh Gowariker’s company (AGPPL VFX) and is fine in most scenes. In climax battles, slow-motion shots add to the effect. Steven Bernard’s editing could have been tedious.
Overall, PANIPAT as its USP highlights an important chapter in Indian history with battle scenes. At the box office, it will require a strong word of mouth as it faces competition in the form of Pati Patty Ar Voh.