Those of us missing the grand, velvet and zari spectacle of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, raise hand.
*Pins hand to the chair*
Clearly, Ashutosh ‘Lagaan’ Gowariker can’t have enough of the Bhansali magic. And why not, the man taught us many a dubious lesson in history, airbrushing the inconvenient fault lines of history to give us uni-dimensional narratives. With some zardozi and velvet thrown in, of course.
Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat has a Bhansali hangover. And then some. But clearly, after the disaster of his last, Mohenjo Daro, where Hrithik Roshan played second fiddle to a CGI crocodile, the funds have dried up.
So everything is the chor bazaar version of Bhansali here.
Instead of Ranveer Singh, we get Arjun Kapoor.
Kirti Sanon is Priyanka Chopra without the gumption.
Sanjay Dutt is Khilji without the fantastic fur coats, eye make-up and (sorry for being so ageist Sanju Baba) the abs.
Maratha valour has to be deified, of course. Preferably with Har Har Mahadev being chanted in the background. Dutt’s Ahmad Shah Abdali, leader of the Durrani army based out of Afghanistan, is a caricature, of course. The film doesn’t seem to care about little details like how Ahmed Shah Abdali was looking to reclaim Delhi, which had only recently been annexed by the Marathas from Abdali’s son, Timur Durrani.
And to think Mr Gowariker once gave us films like Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar would has a little more self confidence about his own idiom.
I mean, does he really need to look at Bhansali for inspiration when it comes to making a period film? Also, why does Arjun Kapoor sound like Suniel Shetty from JP Dutta’s Border, during his war-cries?
But looking at Bollywood’s recent period films bearing an overwhelming saffron tinge about them, can one even blame Gowariker for going down the same route. Padmaavat was the biggest hit of 2018, while Kesari and Manikarnika were successful to a large extent.
Here’s the trailer of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat:
Panipat releases on December 6, 2019.